SANTA CLARA – Deebo Samuel had a career-high 39-yard touchdown on Monday night and had more than a little help from his friends.
“It was a fun play,” said coach Kyle Shanahan.
It was a game that illustrates how consistent blocking the 49ers can be – and that was the case as they went 6-4 and share first on a three-win streak.
“That’s what we’re doing,” Samuel said of a third-quarter touchdown block that gave the 49ers a 24-10 lead in an eventual 38-10 win over the Arizona Cardinals.
Let’s break it down into prime factors and explain why it, and blocking in particular, was so impressive:
STEP ONE: FRAUD
After Jimmy Garoppolo made an unusual 21 passes in the first half (against seven runs of the 49ers), they opened the second half with a ground att*ck. After halftime, the 49ers called a run for the sixth snap in a row, and so began Samuel’s touchdown run.
Jimmy Garoppolo faked a pass to Elijah Mitchell, who had just had three more heats, and then Samuel crashed into the back room on the right of the formation.
Samuel took Garoppolo’s mark on the help logo and raced left past George Kittle’s back block to open the lane.
Deebo Samuel was expected to gain 22 yards rushing when he received a shot on his 39-yard TD run.
— Next Gen Stats (@NextGenStats) November 22, 2022
STEP TWO: FOLLOW THE CARAVAN
Tight end Tyler Kroft escorted Samuel out of the back room and headed for the numbers on the left side of the court. On the 35-yard line, Samuel found the pass.
Brandon Aiyuk triple sealed linebacker Isaiah Williams. Kroft and Trent Williams took corner-back Marco Wilson out of the game to the touchline.
Samuel’s favorite block? “Bachelor’s degree,” Samuel replied. “This boy was lit. I made a cutoff in his block.
Said Aiyuk, “We pretended like this, he’s coming back. (Isaiah Williams) didn’t really see me, so I’m trying to get in his way, so when the ball comes back this way, he turns into me and I’m in front of him. He felt me a little and went to the field. Then it was harder to cut it off, so it turned into a real, real blockage.”
Meanwhile, the 49ers’ right-back Mike McGlinchey crossed the field and stopped defenseman Antonio Hamilton from entering the fight on the 25-yard line.
“How hard the guys at the back worked allowed us to finish it,” said Shanahan.
STEP THREE: THE BRENDEL BLOCK
As Samuel crossed the field, 10 yards ahead was Brendel, who had taken over as the 49ers’ unspecified center this season.
As Samuel crossed the red zone at 20, Brendel went head-to-toe with the safe Buddy Baker on the 15-yard line, then on the 10-yard line, and finally hit him in the pancake on the 6-yard line as Samuel ran past them.
“I thought they were going to get him for holding because Buddha was trying to hit the flop a bit,” said Samuel.
“That’s how the play was designed,” Brendel said. “We didn’t know it was going to turn out like this but me in that position, Deebo used me to his advantage and made sure he got to the end zone unscathed. It was great.”
Brendel’s ability to go that far was impressive and brought back memories of Joe Staley’s leading block for Alex Smith in the team’s epic 2011 playoff win over New Orleans (disclaimer: this comparison isn’t made simply because the Saints play this Sunday at Levi’s Stadium).
What does Shanahan think of the linemen’s rush on the field?
“Better, or else they’ll be the weak link,” Shanahan said. “I feel like everyone here does it, it’s just our standard. I think our boys like it.
STEP FOUR: PAYOUT
It was Samuel’s second touchdown of the season, and his second touchdown came in the opening loss in Chicago. He has 31 carries for 202 yards in the “wide back” role, which isn’t as relevant this season, at least not with the arrival of Christian McCaffrey last month and the return of Elijah Mitchell to the lineup two games ago.
“You always watch these plays once or twice a week,” added Brendel. “You say it can be solved at five o’clock, but you always have to execute it as if it were going home.”
Samuel scored eight touchdowns last season, an NFL record for a wide receiver.
“When you announce a game on the run, you try to make it feel the same as calling out the starting line or the big post or something like that every game has a chance to score,” Shanahan said. “The only way you can look at it in a running game is if all 11 people are involved.”
Unison. This is what makes the 49ers great. It was only one rush game, but it was one of their five touchdowns, on a night when their once dodgy offensive line kept them from being sacked.
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