No. 1: 49ers Wide Receiver Brandon Aiyuk
Out of all the Niners’ first-year players, none have created the kind of buzz rookie wide receiver Brandon Aiyuk has created over the first few days of training camp.
Like Jauan Jennings, Aiyuk was likely to be affected by the lack of spring workouts, cutting into his understanding of Kyle Shanahan’s offense and potentially hindering his on-field development.
So far during the first few days of camp, however, Aiyuk appears to be much further along than initially anticipated. Especially according to Kyle Shanahan, who told 49ers.com the following:
"We’ll see when we go watch the film, but I’ve been real impressed with [Aiyuk] just being around him. He was very impressive on the Zoom meetings. Just his attention to detail. But, since we’ve gotten here just going through these walkthroughs and stuff, you can tell he knows how to practice like a pro. You can tell he comes prepared every day."
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Aiyuk has already started developing his chemistry with quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo, too, including these particular plays on Sunday described by NBC Sports Bay Area’s Jennifer Lee Chan:
"On the second day of training camp, during 11-on-11s, Aiyuk made the play of the day. He caught a long 30-yard bomb from Garoppolo near the left sideline after out-running safety Jason Verrett on a crossing route. Later, Aiyuk got open while being covered by Jaquiski Tartt in the flat. The pocket was closing on Garoppolo who quickly threw a dart to the rookie, who had been able to create some space from the safety. … Not having OTAs or rookie minicamp has not slowed the rookie down."
San Francisco has multiple concerns at wide receiver, not just including Jalen Hurd. Second-year wide receiver Deebo Samuel, widely viewed as the team’s No. 1 player at the position entering 2020, could potentially miss the first few weeks of the regular season while recovering from a Jones fracture in his foot.
Aiyuk thriving early helps alleviate those concerns, and it’s looking as if the rookie will be a potential starter right away by Week 1.