SF 49ers: 5 young players fans should be excited about in 2021

Brandon Aiyuk #11 of the San Francisco 49ers leaps over Marcus Epps #22 of the Philadelphia Eagles (Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images)
Brandon Aiyuk #11 of the San Francisco 49ers leaps over Marcus Epps #22 of the Philadelphia Eagles (Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images) /
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JaMycal Hasty, SF 49ers
JaMycal Hasty #38 of the San Francisco 49ers (Photo by Adam Glanzman/Getty Images) /

Fans should be on the lookout for these five SF 49ers players who are still on their rookie contracts yet could impress in 2021.

The SF 49ers are poised to turn over a significant portion of their roster in 2020, mainly due to the fact they have a limited amount of cap space and roughly 40 players poised to hit some form of free agency this offseason.

Case in point, veteran cornerback Richard Sherman has made it clear he doesn’t plan on returning to the team after spending the last three seasons as both a key contributor, team captain and mentor the many of the younger players on the squad.

With him likely gone, someone else will need to step up and assume his role, both in terms of production and that presence within the locker room.

While the Niners have plenty of roster questions heading into the 2021 offseason, there are a number of younger core pieces fans can be excited about. More than a handful of players still playing on their rookie contracts have stood out. The clearest and most obvious, of course, is linebacker Fred Warner, who is due for a massive contract extension after solidifying himself as one of the league’s best with a first-team All-Pro nod last year.

Aside from Warner, which young standouts should fans be pumped about this upcoming season?

Here are five to watch.

No. 5: SF 49ers Running Back JaMycal Hasty

Players returning from ACL tears, particularly running backs, always carry a lot of concern regarding their ability to perform the following season.

In the case of running back JaMycal Hasty, though, his 2021 campaign could see a drastic uptick in production.

San Francisco already has two runners established above him on the depth chart, Raheem Mostert and Jeff Wilson Jr. But with pending free-agent tailbacks Jerick McKinnon and Tevin Coleman not likely to return, there’s a good chance head coach Kyle Shanahan puts Hasty into the role McKinnon was envisioned to have last season: a third-down pass-catching halfback.

Hasty flashed some playmaking abilities in 2020 including rushing for 148 yards with a touchdown and hauling in seven receptions for 33 yards, too. With McKinnon out of the fray, one might suspect Hasty winds up being the primary beneficiary and could end up being that third-down X-factor to continue sparking the SF 49ers offense.