Deebo Samuel

Jaylon Johnson excited for matchup against 49ers WR Deebo Samuel

San Francisco 49ers wide receiver Deebo Samuel is widely considered one of the most gifted offensive weapons in the NFL. He’s a dynamic playmaker with the ball in his hands, and it’ll be up to Chicago Bears cornerback Jaylon Johnson to do his part to keep the All-Pro pass-catcher from, well, catching passes in Week 1.

“Everybody looks at him as that top five,” Johnson said of Samuel on Monday. “So, I mean, I feel like people look at me as that top guy. So to go against him and then showcase what I can do is another step in the right direction for me.”

Week 1’s opener against the 49ers will allow Johnson to catapult himself into the conversation about the top young cornerbacks in the NFL. While it’s true that he’s respected as one of the better defensive backs in the NFC North and NFC in general, if he shuts down Samuel on Sunday, the entire league will take notice.

Johnson knows the book on Samuel is all about what he does after the catch.

“I feel like a lot of his stuff is YAC yards,” Johnson said. “With his being turning into a running back after he catches the ball. We all know what he can do after he catches the ball, but I mean definitely a dynamic playmaker with the ball in his hands.”

Dynamic may be an understatement. Samuel finished the 2022 season with 77 catches for 1,405 yards and six touchdowns. He added 365 rushing yards and eight touchdowns on the ground. He was a legitimate cheat code at times.

But last year’s receiving production was mostly on the opposite end of passes from quarterback Jimmy Garopolo. This year, the 49ers’ offense belongs to Trey Lance, who was selected seven spots ahead of Justin Fields in the 2021 NFL draft. Lance hasn’t played much football in the last three years, and he only attempted 71 passes in his rookie season.

“A young guy, he definitely has a strong arm,” Johnson said of Lance. “He can hurt us in the run game, but he’s still got to prove himself to me.”

Jaylon Johnson will get his chance to take advantage of San Francisco’s young quarterback, who’s going to target Samuel early and often at Soldier Field on Sunday.

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