Ronnie Bell

49ers' Bell taking cues from YAC Bros Deebo Samuel, Brandon Aiyuk

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Deebo Samuel sees shades of himself in rookie 49ers receiver Ronnie Bell.

San Francisco's "wide back" has put in plenty of work over the years to become the versatile offensive threat he's known as today, and now Samuel and his fellow wideout Brandon Aiyuk are sharing their wisdom with the 49ers' seventh-round pick of the 2023 NFL Draft.

"It's been smooth," Samuel told reporters Monday about his mentorship of Bell. "You know in our receiver room, we harp hard ... First we start off with run blocking. He was struggling with that at first, and so me and Brandon [were] on him hard about that.

"But once he got that and then his reps started going up, you could see [and] kind of reflect back on when I was a rookie, how hard it is and how hard you've got to practice to get ready for the game. He's been getting better at that, and it kind of shows in the game, like he's a real-life gamer."

Bell has emerged as a top preseason target in the 49ers' offense, finishing Saturday's 21-20 win over the Denver Broncos with seven receptions for 114 yards -- and breaking plenty of tackles along the way.

After the game, Bell's performance earned a shoutout from Samuel.

Both Samuel and Aiyuk understand the growing pains that can come with being a new member of 49ers coach Kyle Shanahan's offense. The wideout duo experienced their own respective struggles early in their careers, but now have established themselves as two of the NFL's top receivers.

And Bell, who has an affinity for making plays, is soaking in all he can from Samuel, Aiyuk and the rest of San Francisco's "YAC Bros."

"Yeah, [Samuel and Aiyuk are] playmakers. Exactly that," Bell told media after the 49ers' win Saturday. "It's everything that I've always wanted to be about and been about. Just to be a part of this group with these guys is a huge blessing."

Bell appears to fit right in with San Francisco's durable receivers. The rookie averaged 7.7 yards after catch per reception during his time at Michigan, but he's looking to increase that number under the veteran guidance of the 49ers' wide receiver room.

"One hundred percent," Bell said Saturday when asked if playing alongside YAC-heavy teammates has taken his game to the next level. "... It is something that I've always prided myself on. And last year, I wasn't very pleased with the way that I ran with the ball in my hands. That was something that was a big point of emphasis on myself to improve in my game."

That's great news for the 49ers as Bell makes his case for a spot on the 53-man roster, since they already boast some of the league's best in that category. Christian McCaffrey was No. 2 in the NFL last season in total YAC with 695 as a pass-catcher, and Samuel (493) came in at No. 11, per Pro Football Reference, while finishing with the second-most broken tackles (12) behind only Leonard Fournette and Travis Kelce (13).

As Bell continues to improve his game, it's evident he has fantastic mentors to lean on in the locker room.

"That's something I want to continue to improve on, especially around these guys, the way that they're toting the ball," Bell said. "I want to be able to do the same thing."

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