It was a rather tempestuous offseason for Deebo Samuel and the San Francisco 49ers.
Samuel didn't exactly clear the air on Tuesday, but it's clear he's ready to move with his focus on the field and beyond any histrionics following an offseason that involved a trade request, rumors of discontent with how he was used and a training camp hold-in.
So what changed to bring a smile to Samuel's face and the wide receiver back into the fold with the 49ers?
"At the end of the day, this is a business, so what changed was the communication," Samuel said at his first news conference since signing a three-year extension worth up to $73.5 million, via team transcript. "The more we communicated, the more we started to figure things out."
Business was the buzz word of the day for Samuel. In April, it was initially reported that Samuel had requested a trade. Asked Tuesday if he regretted making the request, he essentially avoided the question much like a would-be tackler.
"Do I regret requesting a trade? At the end of the day, this is a business and we came to a decision and I'm here, so I'm happy to be here," Samuel said. "And that's just what it is."
Having established himself as a burgeoning talent in an impressive 2019 rookie season, Samuel flashed more brilliance here and there during an injury-shortened 2020 campaign. It was in 2021 that he truly broke out, as his All-Pro campaign saw him haul in 77 catches for 1,405 yards while adding 365 rushing yards with 14 total touchdowns.
Samuel ended his third season with 136 touches, including 59 carries as he was used as a "wideback" in head coach Kyle Shanahan's offense.
There was talk that Samuel was unhappy with how Shanahan was using him. Samuel vociferously denied that on Tuesday.
"That is false," the former second-round pick said. "There was a lot of things that came out that I wanted to speak on, but at the end of the day, I wasn't allowed to. So, you can turn on the tape, go back to the Cowboys [playoff] game, it kind of shows what kind of player I am. And also, you can go turn on the Pro Bowl tape and what I said about being a wideback, I don't mind doing whatever it takes for this team to win."
As for the improved communication that led to an extension getting worked out, Samuel didn't go into all that much detail.
"We just started communicating better and then at the end of the day we figured things out," he said.
Given the opportunity to clear up any problems he had between himself and the organization, Samuel once more kept it simple and without much detail.
"At the end of the day, like I said, it was a business and we figured it out and we got everything done," he said.
Indeed, business has been taken care of and it's time for Samuel, who was previously a training camp hold-in, to get back to being one of the NFL's elite playmakers. And to clear one thing up, that means whether it's receiving or rushing, Samuel is ready to go.
"I'm a team-first player," Samuel said. "I remember Kyle coming to me and was like, 'Yo, Deebo you mind running the ball a little bit this week?' I was like, 'You know me, at the end of the day, it's whatever it takes.' I'm pretty good with the ball in my hands and he figured out ways to do it. And we just excelled and then week by week it just got better."
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