Day 2 of the 2022 NFL Draft ended with the San Francisco 49ers selecting a wide receiver with the No. 105 overall pick. It might’ve been a bleak reminder of the ongoing dilemma between the team and Deebo Samuel.
A week after reports of Samuel’s trade request from the 49ers surfaced, head coach Kyle Shanahan spoke on the matter for the first time following the conclusion of the draft’s third round on Friday. Though the 49ers have made it clear they don’t want to part ways with Samuel, Shanahan told reporters that they have yet to see a trade offer worth entertaining.
“You’ll consider anything. You have a responsibility to help your organization the most you can,” Shanahan said. “But losing a player like Deebo, it’s hard to see how that helps your organization. So you try to look into all the aspects of it and what people are willing to do, and nothing was even remotely close to what we thought would be fair to us or fair for the Niners.”
Shanahan said he was “surprised” by Samuel’s demand, but also intimated the business realities of the league. NFL Network Insider Ian Rapoport reported on Day 1 of the draft that the New York Jets offered the No. 10 overall pick and a pick swap for Samuel, but the trade never materialized.
The 49ers selected SMU wideout Danny Gray with their second third-round pick on the day. Gray led SMU with 49 receptions for 803 yards and eight touchdowns in 2021 and posted the seventh-fastest 40 time at the Scouting Combine with a 4.33-second dash. Without a first-round pick in the 2022 draft, San Francisco also brought in USC defensive end Drake Jackson and LSU running back Tyrion Davis-Price in Rounds 2 and 3, respectively.
Samuel’s trade demand followed a breakout season which saw him develop into one of the most unique offensive weapons in the NFL. In his first All-Pro season, Samuel had 77 receptions for 1,405 yards (league-leading 18.2 yards per reception) and six touchdowns while adding 365 yards (6.2 yards per carry) and eight more scores on the ground. Samuel’s extraordinary play fueled the 49ers into the postseason, and he was a major catalyst for the team’s second NFC Championship Game appearance in three seasons.
“We’ve been with him for three years,” Shanahan said of the 26-year-old. “I think we know him pretty well. He knows us pretty well. And things haven’t been the best over the last couple of months through outside perception. But I see that happen a lot in this league, especially in contract situations. So, you try not to overreact one way or the other on it. You try to be patient with it because emotions can get high with people, especially when you care about people and a lot is riding on it. But that’s what you’ve got to make sure you don’t react to. And you’ve got to make sure that when it’s all said and done, first and foremost, you do what’s right for the organization. And then second of all, you try to get a win-win for both sides.”
As the situation remains fluid, Shanahan didn’t get into specifics on why Samuel requested a trade. Replacing such a unique talent like Samuel is highly unlikely to happen on Day 3 of the draft, but Shanahan made it clear on Friday that the 49ers are going to do what’s best for the team one way or another.
“There’s lots of things that play into it,” Shanahan said. “I would love to share it all with everybody so people could understand more, but that’s really not right to Deebo, it’s not right to the 49ers. Hopefully, we can work this out and someday it’ll clear up for you guys.”
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