Deebo Samuel has been a stand-out for the 49ers so far this season, catching 20 of his 30 targets for 334 yards and one touchdown through three games.
Samuel isn’t a small receiver at 6-foot-0 and 215 pounds, but Metcalf is a hulking 6-foot-4 and 235 pounds. The two wide receivers have worked out in the offseason together and become friends. Through the process, Samuel has taken note of his rival’s attributes.
On Thursday, when Samuel was asked if the development of his route tree was similar to Metcalf’s, he answered succinctly.
“No sir,” Samuel said. “He’s a bigger, faster guy and he is just himself. I don’t compare myself to him.”
Metcalf, who led the Seahawks in receiving in 2020, catching 83 of his 129 targets for 1303 yards and 10 touchdowns, currently is just behind Tyler Lockett in production. Metcalf, who was on the Seahawks’ injury report earlier in the week, will play when Seattle visits the 49ers on Sunday. Lockett, who did not practice Wednesday or Thursday, is questionable.
While Samuel is ahead of Metcalf in racking up yards after the catch, the 49ers receiver knows the two have different skill sets. Improved route-running was an aspect that was on Samuel’s offseason priority list.
“I’m a pretty good guy with the ball in my hands and it’s just a plus to be able to go out there this offseason,” Samuel said. “Most things I was doing was getting in shape and boosting my stamina and running routes. Not too much lifting because I’m already a big, heavier guy.”
Offensive coordinator Mike McDaniels has noticed the growth from Samuel since he arrived in 2019.
“It’s a very cool thing to watch because Deebo’s a player that if you take the time and you’re able to show him exactly what you want, he is willing to do whatever it takes to improve upon it,” McDaniels said Thursday. “I know he wants to be great. And the best thing about him is he is not satisfied.
“He’s been able to really expand his route tree. He’s a great person to get the ball to, so that’s great news for the 49ers. And so, he’s expanded the way that we’ve been able to get him to the ball.”
While Samuel and Metcalf will not line up across from one another Sunday, there is no doubt they will be keeping an eye on each other’s performance during the critical NFC West clash at Levi’s Stadium.