Where did Deebo Samuel's relationship with 49ers, Kyle Shanahan go wrong?

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Where did Deebo's relationship with 49ers, Shanahan go wrong? originally appeared on NBC Sports Bayarea

Less than 100 days ago, Deebo Samuel told Kyle Shanahan, “I got your back." But for the 49ers, that probably feels like an eternity ago.

On January 16, 2022, in the divisional round vs. the Dallas Cowboys, K’Waun Williams intercepted a Dak Prescott pass midway through the third quarter. Prior to running out onto the field for the ensuing play, Samuel shouted to his head coach, “Give me the ball.”

Shanahan obliged his multi-talented receiver who took a handoff from Jimmy Garoppolo, ran to the right side of the offensive line and continued 26 yards down the field for the touchdown. Samuel’s relationship with the head of the offense seemed completely in sync.

On April 20, the “wide-back” shared with ESPN reporter Jeff Darlington that he had informed the 49ers that he would like to be traded to another team. Samuel is still under contract with the club through the 2022 season, the fourth and final year of his rookie deal.

So, what went wrong? Samuel reportedly would spend a great deal of time in his head coach’s office on Mondays and Tuesdays. Prior to team drills on the practice field, the two were regularly seen at midfield chatting -- sometimes about football, other times about life.

Could the demands placed on Samuel as a player finally be weighing heavy on his shoulders? It seemed as though the versatile receiver relished the responsibility of putting the team on his back but maybe it became too much to bear.

Did Samuel decide that running between the tackles on a regular basis was not sustainable while wanting longevity in the league? Was Shanahan insistent that Samuel continue his role from the backfield?

While none of us outside of 49ers headquarters knows what really caused the rift between Samuel and the organization, it is possible that the organization was simply following the rules of negotiation.

After star receiver Tyreek Hill landed a record-breaking contract with the Miami Dolphins and deals for Davatae Adams with the Las Vegas Raiders and Stefon Diggs with the Buffalo Bills were revealed, Samuel likely felt like he was next in line.

If the 49ers did not offer Samuel a deal in line with the league’s top receivers, could it have been viewed as an insult? Knowing that the club procured top deals for Fred Warner, George Kittle and Trent Williams an undervalued contract could have been taken personally, instead of simply as the first offer on the table.

RELATED: Deebo deletes cryptic tweet amid 49ers trade request

Both Kittle and Warner’s deals were finalized just prior to training camp after both playmakers participated in OTAs in their contract year. Samuel has remained away from the facility.

John Lynch will speak to the media on Monday in his customary pre-draft availability. While he likely will not reveal any of the team’s dirty laundry, we might get a little insight into what has caused this unexpected rift between the team’s biggest playmaker of the 2021 season.

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