The San Francisco 49ers is one of the toughest teams the Jacksonville Jaguars will play in 2023. The Niners are currently 5-1 and among the top teams in the NFC. They'll be without Deebo Samuel, one of their top players for a couple of weeks but they could have him back when they visit the Jags at EverBank Stadium in Week 10.
Samuel has been ruled out for Monday Night Football with a hairline fracture of his shoulders. 49ers head coach Kyle Shanahan says the wide receiver will sit out the next two games, which makes a return for Week 10 a possibility. Just like the Jags, San Francisco's BYE comes in Week 9, so Samuel will have ample time to get ready.
Granted, Samuel hasn't been the dynamic playmaker he was in 2021, when he totaled 1,770 yards from scrimmage and 14 touchdowns. That year, the former South Carolina Gamecock earned an All-Pro designation and earned a reputation as a Swiss knife for his ability to make plays in the running game or as a receiver. The Niners then rewarded him with a three-year contract extension worth $71.5 million contract extension.
However, Samuel wasn't able to build on his 2021 success and only logged 864 total yards and five touchdowns last year, a steep dropoff in production. He hasn't been able to fully bounce back this season, registering 397 yards from scrimmage, but he could be fully focused and motivated once he returns from injury. That's the last thing the Jaguars would want.
As it is, Jacksonville will have to deal with Christian McCaffrey, who's enjoyed a career revival in San Francisco. Having to stop both McCaffrey and Samuel, along with Brandon Aiyuk, could spell trouble for the Jaguars' defense.
Beating the San Francisco 49ers would be huge for the Jacksonville Jaguars
Urban Meyer frequently made headlines for the wrong reasons during his short stint with the Jacksonville Jaguars. One of them was not knowing the names of the players he was facing despite the fact that he said he had done extensive research on the NFL before getting hired by Jacksonville. One of those players was Deebo Samuel, who registered 94 yards on nine touches against the Jags in Week 10 of the 2021 season.
The Jaguars ended up losing 30-10 then. Fast forward to 2023, and the 49ers are coming off their first loss of the season. They fell to the Cleveland Browns in Week 6 and will next face off against the Minnesota Vikings in Week 7. They'll then take on the Cincinnati Bengals before getting their BYE. By the time San Francisco plays the Jaguars, they could be 8-1.
The Browns and the Niners are arguably the top toughest teams remaining on the Jaguars' 2023 slate. Beating them — or at least going 1-1 — would solidify Jacksonville's spot as one of the best teams in the NFL. They dismantled the Buffalo Bills in Week 5 but fell to the Kansas City Chiefs in Week 2. Defeating a couple of playoff-bound teams would prove the Jaguars are a legitimate contender.
In the end, Deebo Samuel may or may not make an impact in Week 10 but the Jacksonville Jaguars cannot afford to take him lightly if they want to come on top.