How each SF 49ers 2020 NFL Draft pick improves in 2021

Brandon Aiyuk #11 of the San Francisco 49ers (Photo by Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images)
Brandon Aiyuk #11 of the San Francisco 49ers (Photo by Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images) /
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SF 49ers, Brandon Aiyuk
San Francisco 49ers wide receiver Brandon Aiyuk (11) Mandatory Credit: Tim Heitman-USA TODAY Sports /

Brandon Aiyuk takes over as the SF 49ers’ WR1

As long as they both stay healthy, the Niners have perhaps one of the league’s most exciting one-two tandems at wide receiver, Deebo Samuel and Brandon Aiyuk.

This could have been the case in 2020, although Samuel missed all but seven games last season with various injuries. And it seemed to be a recurring theme for San Francisco: When Aiyuk was healthy, Samuel wasn’t, and the opposite would be the case when Samuel was available. Tack on tight end George Kittle missing eight games with a broken foot, and the lack of weaponry to support Aiyuk was notable.

Like Kinlaw, there were plenty of times when Aiyuk was the best player at his position. That’s a lot of pressure for a rookie, yet Aiyuk never looked like he was a first-year player. His route-running abilities were crisp, and he came up big in crucial moments, too.

And it’s pretty amazing to consider he threatened Hall of Famer Jerry Rice’s franchise record for most receiving yards in a rookie season despite Aiyuk playing in only 12 games and having three different quarterbacks throwing to him.

It might already be the case Aiyuk is the best wide receiver on the SF 49ers roster. And the only reason to suggest improvement is coming is due to the hope he’ll have a fully healthy cast of skill players to take pressure off of him.