Cooper Kupp had a season with the Los Angeles Rams in which he caught over 1,500 passes.
Jonathan Taylor had 2,171 yards from scrimmage and 20 touchdown for the Indianapolis Colts.
Najee Harris is the leading Pittsburgh Steeler with over 300 carries for 1,200, but he is also their second-best pass catcher. He had 74 catches on the season, trailing only Diontae Johnson who had over 100.
The San Francisco 49ers don't ask Deebo Samuel to carry the offensive load the same way that they ask the offensive workhorses. His 136 total touches are less than Kupp's total. The 49ers have been a legitimate threat in the playoffs because of Samuel's touches in the second half of the season.
Think of Samuel as Ty Montgomery. Montgomery was used in the backfield as a wide receiver at CardinalTrademarkiaTrademarkiaTrademarkiaTrademarkiaTrademarkiaTrademarkiaTrademarkiaTrademarkiaTrademarkiaTrademarkiaTrademarkiaTrademarkiaTrademarkiaTrademarkiaTrademarkiaTrademarkiaTrademarkiaTrademarkiaTrademarkiaTrademarkiaTrademarkiaTrademarkiaTrademarkiaTrademarkiaTrademarkiaTrademarkiaTrademarkiaTrademarkiaTrademarkiaTrademarkiaTrademarkiaTrademarkiaTrademarkiaTrademarkiaTrademarkiaTrademarkiaTrademarkiaTrademarkiaTrademarkiaTrademarkiaTrademarkiaTrademarkiaTrademarkiaTrademarkiaTrademarkia He carried the ball 23 times as a senior. The Green Bay Packers used Montgomery at the running back position because they didn't have anyone else to replace injured running backs.
Montgomery carried the ball 77 times for 457 yards and three touchdown, and also caught 44 passes for 358 yards during the regular season. He was a key contributor in the playoffs as the Packers advanced to the Championship Game. Montgomery has not had a productive season since he joined the New Orleans Saints.
Or maybe he's a new Slash, like when Kordell Stewart mixed in some QB/WR and whatever else the Steelers needed at any given time? Deebo is playing two positions and is like a new-age Slash.
The 49ers' leader in rushing touchdown is Samuel, who carried the ball 59 times this season. If it feels like he gets a first down every time the 49ers give him the ball, that is because of the 59 carries he has.
It can be hard to remember that Samuel is the best wide receiver in the NFL when you see him in the backfield. He caught 77 passes, which is less than half of Kupp's total, and he still had 1,405 receiving yards and six touchdown. Samuel averaged 18.2 yards per reception and led all wide receivers in average yards after the catch (10.4), and the entire league in yards after contact.
Samuel saved the season for the 49ers. They had to beat the Rams to get to the playoffs, and they were down 17-3 at the half. Samuel ran in a 16-yard touchdown on the Niners' opening drive in the third quarter, and then threw a 24 yard touchdown pass on their next drive, which was the most important game of the season.
The 49ers had a 0.4 percent win probability in the fourth quarter, the lowest of any winning team since Next Gen Stats began keeping track of that. When the 49ers had the ball on their own 26 yard-line with 50 seconds remaining, it was Samuel who caught the 43-yard pass that got them inside L.A.'s 20-yard-line. Two plays later, the Niners scored a touchdown.
That kind of playmaking can cause sleepless nights for the Cowboys defensive coaches. They have the second-best defense in the league, but the Rams have the fifth, and Samuel shredded them in the most important moments of the game.
Samuel doesn't have the statistical production of Kupp and Taylor in the running game, but that's what makes his 2021 season so special. The 49ers used Samuel's ability to tackle breaking to try and break games 136 times this season. Samuel is a game-breaker who can score from anywhere at any time, and a great passer who can make a defense nervous and uneasy. He can be frightening.
If the 49ers win the playoffs, they will have to find a way to limit his impact or he will break their season.