Deebo Samuel

49ers overreactions: Can team afford both Deebo, Aiyuk long term?

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The 49ers quickly flipped the script from “boo hoo” to “woo hoo!”

In crushing the bedraggled Philadelphia Eagles, 42-19, on their home field, the 49ers on Sunday looked like the top team in the NFL.

Now, the question is whether the NFC West-leading 49ers can continue to build on that performance en route to the possible No. 1 seed in the NFC playoffs. If the 49ers beat the Seattle Seahawks on Sunday and the Eagles lose at Dallas, the 49ers would take over the top spot in the NFC.

Of course, the 49ers’ win in Philadelphia did nothing to “avenge” last year’s defeat in the NFC Championship Game. But it did save them a lot of embarrassment after seemingly not giving the Eagles any credit for winning that game after the 49ers lost their starting quarterback in the first quarter.

And the two guys who did the most talking for the 49ers also stepped up in the biggest of ways.

In this edition of 49ers overreactions, we go to Threads. And one of our followers wonders if the 49ers will have the wherewithal to make sure those players stick around for a while.

It will be impossible to keep both Aiyuk and Deebo long-term. (nathanmwilliams)

Overreaction? Yes.

Will it be difficult for the 49ers to sign Brandon Aiyuk to a new contract while continuing to pay Deebo Samuel top dollar? Yes.

Will it be impossible? No.

At this point, with Aiyuk and Samuel being such integral parts of the 49ers’ offensive machine, it’s more difficult to imagine them not remaining with the organization for the long haul.

Look at the salary cap as more of a suggestion, rather than a rigid barrier. If the 49ers are determined and committed to retaining both players on large contracts, they are smart enough to find a way to make it happen.

The 49ers already have picked up Aiyuk’s fifth-year option for next season with a guaranteed salary of $14.1 million. The sides can work out a multi-year extension in the offseason that guarantees Aiyuk more money but also provides a team with salary-cap savings for next season.

The problem will be arriving at the number that works for both sides. There are 13 receivers in the NFL making an average of at least $20 million per season. Aiyuk can be expected to join that group — somewhere in the mid-20 million range — with his next contract.

The 49ers likely will have to make some difficult decisions along the way, but retaining both of them is doable. And the main reason it can be done is because their MVP-candidate quarterback (a guy named Brock Purdy) is stuck taking up so little room on the 49ers’ salary cap through the 2024 NFL season.

Not giving CMC a touch in the first three plays, much less six, is playing with fire, and not something I want to see again as long as he's wearing a 49ers jersey (bernaldon)

Overreaction? Yes.

It is quite all right for the 49ers to try other things. After all, they do have plenty of options on offense.

But as coach Kyle Shanahan said when NBC Sports Bay Area asked him Monday about the game-opening sequence, “I don't think anyone ever has a plan to say, ‘Hey, let's just not involve Christian McCaffrey.’ That's what six plays say without him touching it, but it's not all the case.”

McCaffrey was an option for at least a couple of the early pass plays, and the 49ers found themselves behind the sticks with consecutive three-and-outs. They found themselves in second- and third-and-long situations, which eliminated the logic behind running plays.

But once the 49ers’ offense picked up a first down and started rolling, everybody thrived. And that’s when their offense is at its best.

McCaffrey can be every bit as valuable when he does not get the ball as when he’s getting a heavy dose of touches from the outset of the game.

And it all worked out over the course of the game, as McCaffrey carried 17 times for 93 yards and caught three passes for 40 yards.

McCaffrey now has a league-leading 1,032 yards on the season to become the 49ers’ first 1,000-yard rusher in the regular season since Frank Gore in 2014.

The O-line issues were totally overblown — especially by me. (jonbonanno)

Overreaction? No.

While we don’t have your previous comments immediately available, we can only guess what you might’ve said about the 49ers’ offensive line earlier in the season.

You were not alone.

But it has long been our stance here at 49ers Overreactions Central that the team’s offensive line was going to be OK.

On Sunday, the 49ers’ offensive line outperformed the Eagles’ highly touted offensive line — no question about it.

Philadelphia’s defense even dialed up 10 blitzes against Purdy, who carved up the Eagles on those plays. He completed all 10 of his pass attempts against the blitz for 213 yards with three touchdowns and the highest-possible passer rating of 158.3, according to Pro Football Focus.

Everybody knows about All-Pro left tackle Trent Williams. But let’s give it up for the four lesser-known 49ers starting offensive linemen: center Jake Brendel, right tackle Colton McKivitz, and guards Aaron Banks and Spencer Burford.

Purdy was sacked twice for just 4 yards, while Philadelphia quarterback Jalen Hurts lost 27 yards on three sacks. The 49ers also averaged 5.4 yards per rushing attempt (excluding the game-ending kneel down).

The Eagles' biggest chance to win this game was for their D-line to dominate the 49ers up front.

Simply put, that did not happen.

Greenlaw is becoming a target for refs and a 15-yard penalty in the playoffs will cost the game. #freegreenlaw (naurutger)

Overreaction? Yes.

It seems a bit aggressive to predict a 49ers playoff loss due to a Dre Greenlaw penalty for being overly aggressive, but we shall see.

Greenlaw was not fined for either of his two previous unnecessary roughness penalties this season. He has not been penalized since Week 3, so I do not see any evidence to suggest the officials are being unfair to him.

We can all assume Greenlaw will face a stiff fine for his actions in Sunday’s game, beginning with his suplex of Eagles receiver DeVonta Smith and then his closed-hand swipe that grazed the face of the Eagles’ security guy on the sideline.

Greenlaw is somebody who has been known to play on the edge. It is generally a positive thing, as teammate Nick Bosa pointed out afterward.

“Dre has been the enforcer for this defense since we got here in 2019, and that’s what makes him who he is,” Bosa said. “So we’re not going to knock him for being that.

“But with that situation, he knows he can’t do that, and it was a perfect learning lesson in this moment for down the road. I don’t think he’ll make that mistake again.”

The beat down was sweet, but due to rest alone, we meet the Eagles again in the playoffs it will be much closer. (maxamillianm80)

Overreaction? No.

Anyone could see that this game set up well for the 49ers, despite being on the road for big games in back-to-back weeks.

The 49ers had the extra days of rest, while the Eagles have been pushed to the max with games at Kansas City, an overtime game against Buffalo and this game against the 49ers in a span of 14 days.

Those factors could have contributed to the 49ers playing at a faster speed than the Eagles in the second half.

Or, maybe, the 49ers’ overall team speed will always be too much for Philadelphia if they meet again.

Regardless of where the 49ers and Eagles might play each other in the NFC playoffs (if they meet again), you can expect it will be closer than the 23-point margin of the 49ers’ Week 13 victory.

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