South Carolina's broad receiver Deebo Samuel was drafted No. 36 overall in the NFL draft Friday.
49ers had a mandate in the NFL draft: get more physical in error.
So when coach Kyle Shanahan and general manager John Lynch decided to prepare back-to-back recipients on the second day of the draft Friday, emphasis was placed on finding passers-by to quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo who did not have to rely solely on their route runs or fast feet to shake defenders, as well as the team's established recipients Dante Pettis and Marquise Goodwin.
"When you have a certain size, you have very good hands, you don't have to be as open as other people are," Shanahan said.
The two broadouts that the 49s added to their growing group were Deebo Samuel in South Carolina, taken with No. 36 in Round 2 and Baylor's Jalen Hurd, a third round choice that could be one of the team's most versatile offensive players.
Samuel seems to be the favorite to replace sender veteran Pierre Garçon in "Z" receiving position. The two have similar skills as playing larger than their size while having fearlessness over the center. Samuel (5-foot-11, 214 pounds), like Garçon, does not have the height typically associated with physical possession recipients.
"I just feel you have that dog in you," Samuel said in a conference call. "With that mindset, no one will bring you down and you must make every catch thrown your way."
Shanahan believes that the height does not necessarily define size. It's more about playing style, and Samuel fits well with 49er's offense.
"Look at his body, see how he runs with the ball. It hurts for people to tackle him – it doesn't hurt him so much," Shanahan said of Samuel, who has the compact structure of a running back. "It's a physical receiver for me."
Samuel played outside and in the slot for Gamecocks, and many thought he would be limited to playing inside the NFL. But his athleticism (4.48 in the 40-yard dash, 39-inch vertical jump) paired with his route runner gives Shanahan the belief he can play outside of the numbers.
"Playing on the outside, for me, has to do with threatening guys on the go," Shanahan said. "And it has nothing to do with the height. (It) is about how explosive you and how fast you are. And you can run by people. It allows you to play outside the numbers so people should back up and you can run every other route. "
49 & # 39; s learned Samuel well in the Senior Bowl at the end of January. He was in the southern team, trained by Shanahan and his staff – and he showed his routing chops during the internship week and at the same time gave a feeling of charisma that left an impression on Lynch.
Samuel, who also returns kicks, volunteered voluntarily to work with special teams in practice and showed a passion for improving in a way that attracted San Francisco attention.
"But when you see him in this field, I think what's jumping out, just the fight, the pig, the toughness," Lynch said. "And when you mix it with a guy who can catch a slope and be away, it's a really fun combination."
Samuel was the third recipient crafted behind Hollywood Brown (Baltimore) and N ° Ceal Harry England) in what is considered a deep class in the post. But Samuel is not a perfect perspective. He suffered a broken ankle in 2017 and treated hamstring injuries on two occasions. He had 882 meters at 62 catches in his best season as a senior.
He also had no problem finding the end zone. He scored 30 touchdowns in 30 college games – 16 receiving, seven rushing, four via kickoff returns, two passing and one fumble return.
Hurd was a surprising choice considering the way his college career played out. He spent his first three seasons as a return in Tennessee before changing positions and transferring to Baylor. He sat out in 2017 and then logged 69 catches to 946 meters and four touchdowns in the fall.
At 6-foot-5 and 226 pounds, Hurd thought he was built more to play receiving, where he could have a longer career and take fewer hits. But Shanahan is open to tapping into his abilities as a run back, which he played closer to 250 pounds from 2014-16 in Tennessee.
"I think if he would have stayed a return, I think he would have got the draft back as an NFL," Shanahan said. "Today he was drafted as an NFL receiver, kind. I think if he tried to play tight end, he would have been drafted as an NFL tight end. It's a pretty unique thing to have. don't remember being able to say about any player I have studied before. "
With Hurd's weight swinging throughout college, Shanahan does not rule out a future position change, perhaps as a tight tight end to complement George Kittle if his body were to fill.
The skill positions of Shanahan's offense are defined by adjustment. In other words, there are games where the back line line up on "X" receiver and tight ends play "F" in slot.
How Hurd is used can be defined by matchups, which makes him unique to San Francisco's roster. For now he will start at the recipient and work with new position coach Wes Welker and assistant Miles Austin.
"What's nice when you have a receiver that can swing (weight) like that, but it's also the mentality to play when you drive back or play a tight end," Shanahan said. "There are many recipients who might have the ability to do so, but it is very rare to have the ability and mentality with it because playing back is very different than playing receiving, and it is much different than playing close. "
By taking two recipients, especially two who could help in the red zone, San Francisco's offense could be significantly improved in 2019 after ranking last in the Redzone offense last season.
49ers joins the final day of the draft Saturday with only three choices: 104 (round 4), 176 and 212 (round 6). Their most urgent need is in the secondary, at corner and security, and they could use offensive line depth.