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Expect the good version of Deebo Samuel in 2023

No player on the 49ers has been more Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde than Deebo Samuel. This week Samuel himself says to expect big things this season.

"This offseason was pretty good for me. I'll say this is probably the best shape that I've been in since 2019. You got that long time of working out, long time of preparation. I took that 40 days away [between minicamp and training camp] and really got to it and got to where I wanted to be. I feel kind of faster, lighter on my feet, easier to change direction."

In 2019 and 2021 he was a revelation, dominating defenses with his shocking physicality and explosive run-after-catch skills.

In 2020 and 2022, he was a shell of himself. Unable to stay on the field and largely ineffective when he was on it. In his own words, "Oh, it was awful. Every aspect."

So what changed this year, Deebo?

"Really locked in. Me and my girl took like one trip right when OTAs were over then after that I was kind of locked in in Arizona. I think the heat kind of played a part in that, too, because Arizona is hot.
Had a great trainer, Nick Hill. We were doing a lot of running. A lot of cardio. A lot of stuff to kind of trim that fat a little bit. A lot of track working out, and then I got into a routine of flexibility, mobility, and then got into boxing a little bit."

This is both good news and incredibly frustrating. I'm definitely excited that we could see the return of one of the league's most versatile and explosive playmakers this season. Getting that Deebo back would be an incredible lift to the offense, particularly combined with a full season from Christian McCaffrey. A full year from those two players could lead to a franchise-best season on offense, and that's saying something considering the history of this team.

At the same time, what happened during previous offseasons? You're a professional football player, man. You should be, "locking in" every single offseason - that's what the money is for. Especially the year you're trying to get a new contract. There's simply no excuse for coming into training camp overweight and out of shape.

So while we should enjoy the version of Deebo that we're going to get this year, we can add Samuel's physical condition to the long list of reasons 2023 is Super Bowl or bust. If they don't get it done in February, we have no idea which Deebo will emerge from offseason hibernation a year from now.

(Photo credit: Darren Yamashita - USA Today Sports)

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