Wide receiver Deebo Samuel appears ready to take charge as he enters his second NFL season.
In his first professional season, Samuel was just trying to tread water, as he had to learn the 49ers' voluminous playbook, simply know where to line up when he broke the huddle and not make many glaring mistakes.
Samuel managed to put together a strong rookie season with 57 receptions for 802 yards and three touchdowns.
The 49ers are a month into their virtual offseason program, and Samuel is working hard -- something South Carolina coach Will Muschamp warned the 49ers was an issue with Samuel during offseasons. Samuel appears to be comfortable enough with his own role to see the big picture. But that does not necessarily mean that Samuel will consciously try to become more of a leader.
"Honestly, I don't think it'll change anything," he said. "I'll just continue to be me. Even if it's not being the No. 1 receiver, I just have to continue to do my job and bring my teammates along. I know it's a team sport. It's not about one person. Everybody got on the same accord to get the job done."
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Immediately after the 49ers traded up in the first round to select Arizona State wide receiver Brandon Aiyuk, Samuel reached out to 49ers receivers coach Wes Welker to get Aiyuk's contact information. He wanted to welcome him to the team, and offer his support and assistance in making a smooth transition for the rookie. Samuel also believes Aiyuk's style will be a good complement to his own skillset.
"You can see Aiyuk got a little finesse to his game, which I like," Samuel said. "We're kind of similar in a lot of ways."
Samuel said Aiyuk's ability to run jet-sweep motions will give coach Kyle Shanahan another option for those types of plays. Samuel had 14 run attempts last season for 159 yards and three touchdowns during the regular season. He also set a Super Bowl record for a wide receiver with 53 yards rushing on three carries.
"They're so used to me doing that, with him, it'll give defenses something else to think about," Samuel said.
Samuel said he also likes what seventh-round draft pick Jauan Jennings brings to the team. Samuel was familiar with Jennings, a physical 6-foot-3 receiver from Tennessee, from playing in the SEC.
"You can tell he's a very physical guy," Samuel said. "He loves to get after it. He doesn't care about getting dirty and what-not."
But Samuel might have been most excited with the defensive tackle the 49ers selected with their top selection at No. 14 overall. The 49ers went with Javon Kinlaw, who was Samuel's teammate at South Carolina.
"He's a very humble guy, hard-working guy," Samuel said. "Really not a problem type of guy. He's just very chill when it comes to off the field. Wants to do the best he can when he's on the field. If you can look at him and see, he's just a dog out there."
"He got big shoes to fill and he's more than ready to get out there and show what he's capable of," Samuel said. "I saw it first hand when I was there."
49ers' Deebo Samuel excited about rookies Brandon Aiyuk, Javon Kinlaw originally appeared on NBC Sports Bay Area