'You don't let guys like that walk' – 49ers GM John Lynch on Deebo Samuel's trade request
San Francisco 49ers general manager John Lynch said he "can't ever imagine wanting to move on from" Deebo Samuel after the star wide receiver requested a trade.
Samuel was used by the 49ers in a unique hybrid role for the 2021-22 season, increasing his productivity, but also increasing his wear-and-tear as he handled more physically demanding running back carries as well as his primary receiver duties.
The 2019 second-round pick amassed a career-high 1,405 receiving yards and six receiving touchdowns from 77 catches, and added career-highs in rushing yards (365), rushing touchdowns (eight) and carries (59).
Speaking to the media at a pre-draft press conference, Lynch said even after considering what the 49ers could gain through a trade, he views Samuel in the class of player in which a team should never part ways with by choice.
"I can't ever imagine wanting to move on from Deebo," he said.
"You put yourself through the exercises of, even though we don't have a first-round pick, you have to be thorough in this process and prepare for everything, and as you go through and do that [you realise] he's just too good of a player. You don't let guys like that walk."
The praise for Samuel did not end there, with Lynch calling him a "game-changing player for the franchise."
"I told Deebo this," he said. "I think he's the perfect illustration of what Herm Edwards used to talk about, 'When will meets skill you got the opportunity to be special' – and I think Deebo embodies that as much as anybody.
"He's got tremendous will. He's a very talented player. By virtue of the way he plays, it's inspiring.
"So, to me, that entails leadership. Do you make people around you better? He checks that box.
"He's a great teammate, and I think of things like prior to games, he gets out there and is throwing the ball to fans.
"He's a great member of our community. We got nothing but love for him."
Despite the public nature of Samuel's request to leave San Francisco, Lynch insists the bridge is not burnt, and he believes he can salvage the relationship.
"We pride ourselves on our communication with our players," he said. "This is no different. I'm confident we can find the solutions for whatever is going on.
"That's life, you've gotta work through things. That's what we plan on doing."