Deebo Samuel

Why Riddick believes rookie 49ers receivers could replace Deebo

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The 49ers possess arguably the most potent offensive skill-position player group in the NFL, but that didn't stop San Francisco from adding a pair of wide receivers in the 2024 draft.

But could those selections have been made in preparation for a future that doesn't include one of the 49ers' star wide receiver duo of Deebo Samuel and Brandon Aiyuk? ESPN's Louis Riddick certainly believes so.

During a segment on "NFL Live," Riddick explained that San Francisco's decision to select Florida wide receiver Ricky Pearsall at No. 31 overall was made with a long-term outlook in mind from the 49ers' brain trust.

"I think Ricky Pearsall is a three-position player, he really is a four-position player," Riddick explained. "He can play both outside spots, he can play the slot, he can lineup in the backfield and run routes from there. Who does that? Who is the utility guy like that for San Francisco? That's Deebo's role.

"You have to think that [49ers general manager] John Lynch was thinking ahead. [Coach] Kyle Shanahan was thinking ahead. We have to have a guy who can fill those multiple positions."

Pearsall isn't the only San Francisco rookie that has caught Riddick's attention, as fourth-round selection Jacob Cowing earned immense praise from the former NFL executive.

"[The 49ers] drafted another guy in the fourth round in Jacob Cowing, who no one is talking about right now, but at Arizona, this guy is just lightning in a bottle," Riddick detailed (h/t 49ers Webzone). "He's another guy who can work the interior of the field with blazing speed, great separation, great hands, run after the catch.

"To me it sounds like -- look, if they are preparing for the eventual exodus of one of these guys, to me, it sounds like they're preparing for the eventual exodus of Deebo Samuel. Because Brandon is more of an outside laying guy who can win down the field one-on-one. That's my read on it, we'll see what happens."

Samuel is among the most important players on the 49ers' roster, but recently has been the subject of rampant speculation regarding his future in San Francisco.

While Pearsall and Cowing's upside certainly is appealing, it would be a massive gamble if the 49ers attempt to replace the 2021 First-Team All-Pro receiver due to the incredibly unique skill set Samuel possesses.

Whether Pearsall or Cowing ultimately follow in Samuel's footsteps remains to be seen, but for now San Francisco enters the 2024 season with an embarassment of riches at the receiver position, which is sure to endear quarterback Brock Purdy.

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