2020 Shadow Coverage Report – San Francisco 49ers

Team: San Francisco 49ers

Division: NFC West

WR1: Deebo Samuel

Number of Potential Shadow Coverage Match-ups: 11

Historical Production

Deebo Samuel has yet to draw shadow coverage in his career as last season some teams elected to take away Emmanuel Sanders. The luxury of having a great play caller like Kyle Shanahan is he gives Samuel multiple ways to produce.  Shanahan does this by using Samuel in the run game which helps raise his floor even in tougher match-ups. Samuel was utilized in the slot as well seeing 25% of his routes on the inside and roughly 35% of his targets from that position. These factors will be notable when evaluating Samuel throughout the season.

2020 Schedule

Samuel’s schedule is nothing short of a gauntlet. Already behind the eight-ball dealing with an off-season foot injury Samuel is returning to the toughest shadow cornerback schedule of any wide receiver in 2020. This season he won’t have another wide receiver like Sanders to draw attention away, so Samuel will be the player that defensive coordinators target for shadow coverage. Heading into 2020 Samuel has 9 tier 1 cornerback match-ups and 11 total for the season.  In his own division he will see match-ups vs. top shadow cornerbacks Jalen Ramsey and Patrick Peterson. The NFC West will be facing off vs. AFC and NFC East that hosts some top shadow cornerbacks including Bryon Jones (Dolphins), Stephon Gilmore (Patriots), Tre’Davious White (Bills) and James Bradberry (Giants). If this wasn’t tough enough the other NFC teams they face are the Saints (Marshon Lattimore) and the Packers (Jaire Alexander).


San Francisco 49ers
Team Week(s) Player
2019 Yards Per Covered Snap
Arizona Cardinals
1,16 Patrick Peterson 1.25
New York Giants 3 James Bradberry 1.14
Miami Dolphins
Bryon Jones 0.62
Xavien Howard 1.5
Los Angeles Rams
6,12 Jalen Ramsey 1.15
New England Patriots
7 Stephon Gilmore 1.06
Green Bay Packers
9 Jaire Alexander 1.3
New Orleans Saints
10 Marshon Lattimore 1.21
Buffalo Bills 13 Tre’Davious White 1.02
Washington Redskins
League Average 2019 Yards Per Covered Snap 1.31


Early Season Schedule (Weeks 1-4)

Reports are already coming out that Samuel is a coin flip for the beginning of the season so his prospects for starting on the PUP are 50/50. If he does play, Week 1 Samuel draws the Arizona Cardinals and Patrick Peterson who over the final few weeks of 2019 started regaining his form after an early season suspension. Peterson held notable wide receivers Odell Beckham (8-66), D.K Metcalf (0-0) and Robert Woods (7-67) all under 70 yards with Woods the only one of the three to find the end zone. Then in week 3 the 49ers travel across country to face off vs. the New York Giants and James Bradberry. The Giants are a wildcard as new Defensive Coordinator Patrick Graham is a long time Patriots assistant and Dolphins defensive coordinator in 2019. James Bradberry has been great shadowing bigger wide receivers and Samuel does profile as a player Bradberry has a track record of slowing down. In 2019 he held players like Mike Evans, Julio Jones, D.K Metcalf and DeAndre Hopkins outside the top 20 with only Evans getting inside the top 20 in one of his two match-ups.

Fantasy Playoff Schedule (Weeks 14-16)

By the time the playoffs roll around the expectation is for Samuel to begin returning to form from his foot injury.  I am not going to blow smoke up you’re a** and tell you what’s going to happen or if Samuel will return to form at all. Just stick with me throughout the season, and we will know by week 14 if we need to pivot from Samuel. That being said, in week 14 he has a match-up vs. the Washington Football team which as of today is nothing more than a tier 3 cornerback match-up. We don’t know who new Head Coach Ron Rivera’s go to shadow cornerback will be or even if there will be one, but by the time we get to the fantasy playoffs we will know if it’s worth downgrading Samuel. In the fantasy championship, Samuel will square off once again vs. Patrick Peterson and if he plays earlier in the season we should know based on that week 1 match-up if Peterson will be tasked with shadowing Samuel in week 16. If Patrick Peterson has returned to form, we will mostly likely be looking elsewhere in our fantasy championship.

2020 Draft Recommendation

The foot injury alone should keep Samuel off draft boards, but after reviewing his 2020 shadow coverage schedule it is best to pivot in drafts this season. Currently going in the back of the 8th round over the last two weeks, Samuel’s price tag is still to rich for my blood. Notable wide receivers being drafted behind him are Jamison Crowder, Anthony Miller and DeSean Jackson all of whom should be drafted ahead of the Samuel.