SF 49ers: 3 under-radar second-year players to watch in 2021

San Francisco 49ers running back JaMycal Hasty (38) Mandatory Credit: Brian Fluharty-USA TODAY Sports
San Francisco 49ers running back JaMycal Hasty (38) Mandatory Credit: Brian Fluharty-USA TODAY Sports /
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JaMycal Hasty, SF 49ers
JaMycal Hasty #38 of the SF 49ers (Photo by Maddie Meyer/Getty Images) /

While second-year SF 49ers players like Javon Kinlaw and Brandon Aiyuk command attention in 2021, look for these three depth pieces to be of interest.

The SF 49ers experienced good returns on their top-two investments from the 2020 NFL Draft, defensive tackle Javon Kinlaw and wide receiver Brandon Aiyuk.

Aiyuk, who threatened Hall of Famer Jerry Rice’s franchise record for most receiving yards by a rookie, already looks cemented as a future star. And while Kinlaw started off slow after being selected at No. 14 overall in last year’s draft, there’s little questioning a fully healthy defensive line and one year’s maturation should help turn him into a legitimate force.

Yet the Niners only received modest production from their remaining rookies in 2020. It didn’t help the team took home only five draft picks, and there weren’t a lot of openings on the roster until injuries began to pile up during the regular season.

But if one subscribes to the idea players make their biggest proverbial leaps between years one and two, these three second-year pros may wind up being integral parts of San Francisco’s depth chart in 2021.

For good reason, too.

The SF 49ers are poised to change over a sizable chunk of their roster this offseason. With nearly 40 players hitting some form of free agency next month, there are going to be opportunities for younger, cheaper players to step into the fray. Especially with the Niners limited to just over $13 million in cap space, currently.

With that as a backdrop, look for these three under-the-radar second-year players to be a bit more under the microscope this offseason leading up to Week 1.