Deebo Samuel–C.J. Gardner-Johnson feud, explained: When did beef between 49ers WR and Lions safety begin?

“Put us together, it’s like mixing vodka and milk…”

With one line, Prodigy (of beloved New York rap duo Mobb Deep) described how a feud can curdle.

Such a beef can provide fuel, a rush — even a bit of dread. Mostly, though, it entertains. And two of the players in Sunday’s NFC championship game are providing everyone with a show.

49ers wide receiver Deebo Samuel and Lions safety C.J. Gardner-Johnson have laid the ground for Sunday’s clash with trash talk throughout the season.

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Here’s how the feud between the two stars began.

Deebo Samuel-C.J. Gardner Johnson feud, explained

The beef between Samuel and Gardner-Johnson is a year in the making.

The pair met in the NFC championship game in 2023, with Samuel on the 49ers and Gardner-Johnson on the Eagles. Gardner-Johnson got the win, and Samuel claimed afterward that Philadelphia was his “most hated team” due to the excessive amount of trash talk.

Gardner-Johnson didn’t offer an immediate rebuttal, but he found his voice come Week 6 of the 2023 season.

Prior to the 49ers’ Week 6 clash with the Browns, Samuel, Trent Williams, Brandon Aiyuk and a host of other Niners got into a small scuffle with members of Cleveland. Gardner-Johnson used a clip of the incident to throw some barbs about Samuel and his perceived toughness.

Never one to back down, Samuel penned a biting response of his own. 

Gardner-Johnson replied, telling Samuel that Williams couldn’t always protect him. He even used a couple more yawn emojis to get his point across.

For Gardner-Johnson’s next act, he took things to Instagram Live. The Lions defensive back claimed that Samuel was easy to guard, among other things.

“Don’t be friendly when you see me,” Gardner-Johnson said. “Because I can guard you. You can’t run routes, you’re a running back.”

Deebo took the comment in stride, telling NFL commentator Kay Adams that he’s unconcerned with Gardner-Johnson.

“He just sound like he’s mad I got a little bag and a lot of money and no one knows who he is,” Samuel said.

Samuel brushed off the beef again ahead of Sunday’s NFC championship game, telling reporters Friday: “I pay that no mind. He just gotta come in and strap it up.”

Samuel and Gardner-Johnson will have the chance to settle this feud on the field, just in time for one of the biggest games of the year.


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