How high is 49ers wide receiver Brandon Aiyuk’s rookie ceiling?
Few predicted the San Francisco 49ers would select wide receiver Brandon Aiyuk in Round 1 of the 2020 NFL Draft. Even fewer predicted the Niners would trade up to grab him, especially considering their relatively limited crop of mid-round draft picks needed to do so.
Yet that’s precisely what general manager John Lynch did on the draft’s opening night, moving up from the No. 31 overall selection to No. 25 overall, grabbing the Arizona State standout who was reportedly towards the very top of head coach Kyle Shanahan’s big board.
It’s no secret San Francisco needed receiving help during the offseason. After losing veteran wideout Emmanuel Sanders to the New Orleans Saints in free agency, Shanahan essentially had only two players at the position he could trust entering 2020: Deebo Samuel and Kendrick Bourne.
With third-year wide receiver Dante Pettis‘ dramatic fall from grace a stain on the 49ers’ recent draft record, something needed to be done to maintain the Niners’ Super Bowl window being open while providing quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo with another pass-catching threat.
That’s where Aiyuk comes into play.
San Francisco likely traded up to grab Aiyuk in fear he wouldn’t last beyond the Miami Dolphins’ pick at No. 26 overall, which was subsequently traded immediately after the Niners grabbed Aiyuk.
Whether or not that was too aggressive move on the part of Lynch is debatable. But the more pressing matter is whether or not Aiyuk can live up to the expectation level.
In this installment of Niner Noise’s 2020 “Who Is?” series, we look at both the ceiling and floor for San Francisco’s rookie receiver, speculating whether or not he can be a star in year one.