NASHVILLE, Tenn. — It’s been a while since San Francisco added to its South Carolina-to-the-bay pipeline. From 2011-15, the 49ers drafted six Gamecocks but hadn’t picked a USC alum since.
Perhaps they were waiting for the right one. Or right No. 1.
Explosive USC receiver/kick returner Deebo Samuel went to the 49ers with the fourth pick of the second round on Friday, the 36th pick overall. Even with his extensive injury history, San Francisco saw the electrifying ways that Samuel can impact an offense and knew that coach Kyle Shanahan would be able to find all kinds of ways for him to do so.
“This is the way we wanted it. I’m pumped up to get you, man,” Shanahan told Samuel on the draft call. “I’m just glad it worked out this way.”
“He is a big, thick slot receiver who creates a lot of problems,” ESPN analyst Todd McShay said during the announcement. “He’s kind of a physical freak even though he’s not 6-4, 6-5. He’s a big-time playmaker.”
Opposing defenders and special-teamers got plenty of looks at the No. 1 stamped on Samuel’s back getting smaller and smaller as he scored 28 touchdowns in just 30 games at USC. He scored 16 receiving, seven rushing, four on kick return and one on a fumble recovery, while also throwing one touchdown pass.
Samuel was on his way to a Heisman Trophy campaign in 2017 when he scored six touchdowns in the first three games, but a broken leg ended his season. He returned in 2018 and stayed healthy, piling up over 1,600 all-purpose yards and 13 touchdowns.
Clemson, after a school-record three first-round picks Thursday, continued its pursuit of another school record (10 draft picks in 1983) when cornerback Trayvon Mullen went 40th overall to Oakland. Mullen will reunite with defensive lineman Clelin Ferrell, who the Raiders chose fourth on Thursday.
Mullen had 94 tackles, 4.5 for loss, and four interceptions in his Clemson career. He was named defensive MVP of the last national championship game when he had six tackles, a sack and an interception.
Stanford receiver J.J. Arcega-Whiteside, who prepped at Dorman High, went No. 57 to Philadelphia. West Virginia quarterback Will Grier, son of Oceanside Collegiate coach Chad Grier, went 100th to the Carolina Panthers.