Rushing incentives sweeten Deebo Samuel contract

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Deebo Samuel’s role as a ‘wide back’ may change in 2022, but it might also get him paid.

Reports from Ian Rapoport during the offseason after Samuel requested a trade indicated the wide receiver was unhappy with the role that had him averaging more than six carries per game over the second half of last season.

It was never realistic to expect the 49ers and head coach Kyle Shanahan to agree to remove that tool from their bag, so Samuel was instead rewarded with some incentives in his new three-year contract extension.

Per ESPN’s Adam Schefter, Samuel can make up to $1.95 million over the length of the three-year pact by hitting thresholds for rushing yards and rushing touchdowns.

Schefter reported Samuel will receive an additional $650,000 if he has more than 380 rushing yards (he posted 365 last season). He can also earn $150,000 if he has more than three rushing touchdowns. However, the maximum amount of incentives he can reach is $650,000 per year.

This is a good middle ground for the two sides that allows the 49ers to continue using the depth of Samuel’s entire skill set, while Samuel is compensated for his additional productivity on the ground.

Head coach Kyle Shanahan on Monday said in a press conference that there’s no preset determination on what Samuel’s role will be.

“I think based off of whatever happens, from my standpoint, schematically from our team’s personnel, from Deebo’s, from what we think gives us the best chance to win, if we wanted to move Deebo to running back that would’ve been something that we were honest with him about towards the end of last year and the last few games he became our one, two punch,” Shanahan said. “And also [RB] Elijah [Mitchell], who was our most physical back, he wasn’t the healthiest either. And we thought we had to play our two best guys to get done what we wanted to with our team, which was awesome. To have that option to do that, you can’t do that with anybody you have to do that with a special player and Deebo is a special player. And I think that’s why he’s earned this contract that he’s got. And I think that’s why he is going to continue to earn it going forward.”

It stands to reason the 49ers won’t want to run Samuel between six and 10 times per game again this year like they did at the end of last year. Those runs can take a toll on a player’s body and Samuel is too talented to not have available. He reached 59 carries  last year, but that number was largely backloaded to the second half. If he gets up near 60 again it will more likely be spread out more evenly across 17 games.

Figuring out the best way to use Samuel is a good problem to have though. A productive year from him should put the 49ers in position to win a lot of games, and to earn Samuel some additional cash.

Story originally appeared on Niners Wire