No. 3: 49ers Wide Receiver Brandon Aiyuk
The Niners used the No. 25 overall pick in the 2020 NFL Draft to grab Deebo Samuel’s proverbial “partner in crime,” former Arizona State wide receiver Brandon Aiyuk.
Aiyuk, who netted 1,192 receiving yards his final season with the Sun Devils, is now going to be pressed to contribute much more early than he otherwise would have been expected. And this could be hard to do, too, despite some notable positives and attributes making him a fit for Kyle Shanahan.
For starters, Shanahan’s offense is awfully complex, requiring precise route-running skills and an understanding of the terminology. Shanahan’s system is far more complicated than anything Aiyuk had to master at Arizona State, and the learning process naturally takes time.
Now, Aiyuk will have to master the nuances of Shanahan’s offense much more quickly.
On top of that, Aiyuk’s expected level of production will be higher out of the gate than it would otherwise be for most rookie receivers. Initially, the thought process would be Aiyuk seeing time as a No. 3 boundary receiver behind Samuel and the next player on this list, fourth-year pro Kendrick Bourne.
But Aiyuk is going to be asked to do a lot more much sooner than anticipated.