Plenty of running backs, receivers, and tight ends want the ball, and they’re not bashful about saying so. Coaches learn to tune them out and focus on the task at hand.
Some players carry more weight. For 49ers coach Kyle Shanahan, receiver Deebo Samuel is one of those players.
Shanahan was asked on Thursday about an NFL Films clip of Samuel asking for the ball, getting it, and scoring a touchdown. Did Samuel’s words have an impact?
“It did there,” Shanahan said. “Someone telling me to get them the ball doesn’t at all mean that I’m going to get them the ball. Sometimes it’s just interesting to hear him, but when he says, ‘Get me the ball,’ you guys watch how he runs, and you know how much he means it. Deebo is as real of a guy as I’ve been around and he has a passion for this game that is making him one of the best players in this league. And the passion he has when he says that, those words carry a little differently to me than other people’s. And I want him to get him the ball on almost every play. I wasn’t quite thinking about it there. We had a quick turnaround, got a turnover and I was sitting there thinking about what direction to go and and I probably would’ve ended up going that direction. But when Deebo looks at you and says that, it wasn’t hard to think about it. It was just find a run to Deebo.”
That’s really the question for Saturday night. Can phenomenal play from Samuel and Kittle overcome a quarterback with a propensity to make a big mistake at the worst time? The answer to that may very well determine the outcome of the game.