No. 1: 49ers Wide Receiver Brandon Aiyuk
San Francisco has question marks at wide receiver, especially in the wake of both Richie James (wrist) and Deebo Samuel (foot) suffering offseason injuries. Outside those two, the 49ers don’t exactly have a lot of proven and reliable options.
Those concerns likely influenced the team’s decision to use a first-round NFL Draft pick on former Arizona State wideout Brandon Aiyuk, and he has been a massive standout for Kyle Shanahan over the first few days of camp.
Including this beautiful over-the-shoulder 50-yard touchdown grab in team drills:
49ers.com’s Keiana Martin described what happened during the above play on day two of practices:
"The rookie hauled in at least four receptions, three were for sizeable gains. His most impressive catch was during 7-on-7 drills. The rookie beat out his man on a deep pass from Garoppolo up the left sideline for a “would-be” touchdown. Aiyuk caught the pass over his right shoulder as Jimmy Garoppolo hit the rookie in stride."
There were understandably some concerns and need to temper the expectation level for Aiyuk, especially considering he’s a rookie and must master Shanahan’s complex offense before offering up a sizable impact at the pro level.
So far, so good.
Aiyuk could end up being a starter for the Niners awfully quick, both because of Samuel’s possible absence early in the season and because of the rookie’s budding play so far in camp.
San Francisco surely hopes so, as it’ll justify the team’s lofty investment in the draft from last April.