AP Photo/Marcio Jose Sanchez

San Francisco 49ers general manager
John Lynch confirmed Wednesday he expects wide receiver Deebo Samuel
to remain with the team for the 2022 NFL season.

Lynch was asked about Samuel’s status
at a Dwight Clark Legacy Series event and received an ovation from
the crowd after saying he’d be a “fool” to trade the 2021 Pro
Bowl selection:

49ers on NBCS @NBCS49ers

.@MaioccoNBCS asks John Lynch if Deebo will be on the team this season 👀⬇️ pic.twitter.com/vv1lr1QKmE

In April, Samuel confirmed to ESPN’s
Jeff Darlington that he’d requested a trade from the 49ers, but he declined to discuss the specific reasons behind that decision.

Tom Pelissero of the NFL Network
subsequently reported there were “multiple layers” to the
situation, but one of the most important was the playmaker’s desire
to play wide receiver more exclusively rather than a hybrid
receiver-running back role.

Samuel made 77 catches for 1,405 yards
and six touchdowns last season, but he also recorded 365 yards and
eight scores on 59 rushing attempts.

His contract is likely a factor in
the situation, as well.

The 26-year-old University of South
Carolina product is scheduled to make $3.99 million in 2022, which
ranks tied for 46th among wideouts, per Spotrac. It’s the final year
of his rookie contract.

While his receiving numbers warrant a
significant raise from that number, the difficulty from San
Francisco’s perspective is deciding what fair value is if Samuel no
longer wants to play a key role in its rushing attack.

Clearly the Niners are prepared to dig
in their heels to avoid trading one of their most valuable players,
and they have the franchise tag in their back pocket if an agreement
on an extension isn’t reached by next offseason.

So Samuel, who didn’t attend the
start of voluntary organized team activities, will have to decide
whether he’s willing to embark on an extended holdout to force a
trade.

Signing a lucrative long-term extension
is the other option, but so far there’s no suggestion a new deal is
close. In May, ESPN’s Jeremy Fowler reported the idea of an extension
hadn’t been “addressed in a meaningful way” this offseason.

It creates a situation where the stare-down could continue into training camp and potentially beyond.

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