Deebo Samuel is highly motivated to return to his All-Pro form in 2023.
The San Francisco 49ers wide receiver arrived to minicamp on Tuesday describing his performance in 2022 as "awful" and acknowledged his absence this time last year amid a lengthy contract negotiation was a distraction, according to The Athletic's Matt Barrows.
"Just going through the tape, it was, 'Look how sluggish and, like, how bad you look on tape,'" Samuel said, adding that he had a long film session with head coach Kyle Shanahan this offseason. "Like I said, what happened last offseason kind of played a big role in that.
"I'll never put nothing on tape like that again."
Samuel's 864 scrimmage yards (632 receiving, 232 rushing) last season was a big drop off from the 1,770 scrimmage yards (1,405 receiving, 365 rushing) he accrued during his All-Pro campaign in 2021. The disparity also hit his touchdown numbers, going from 18 total scores in 2021 to five in 2022.
Although Samuel only played in 13 games in 2022 due to multiple injuries, there were only flashes of the dominance he portrayed throughout his breakout season a year prior. Producing a subpar season after inking a three-year extension -- a contract situation that overshadowed much of the Niners' offseason last year -- perhaps makes it all that much more disappointing.
According to Barrows, Samuel said he intends on arriving to training camp in the same shape as he did in 2021, declaring, "I'm gonna be more than ready to go the first day."
A dominant Samuel on a well-rounded 49ers squad is a scary proposition for opposing defenses. With running back Christian McCaffrey entering his first offseason with the club, quarterback Brock Purdy on schedule with his recovery and the defense only growing stronger this offseason, San Francisco is primed to make another deep playoff run.
49ers tight end George Kittle can only see good things happening for the team upon learning Samuel's motivation in 2023.
"If he said (he was awful), I know he's going to try to have a better year this year, which I appreciate," Kittle said. "Because if Deebo's trying to be better, that's only good for the Niners."