49ers roster: 4 second-year players to watch most 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) /
1 of 4
JaMycal Hasty, SF 49ers
San Francisco 49ers running back JaMycal Hasty (38) Mandatory Credit: Brian Fluharty-USA TODAY Sports /

Rookies aren’t always expected to be game-changers right away, and these second-year 49ers are looking to make a sizable impact in 2021.

The San Francisco 49ers brought aboard only five picks in the 2020 NFL Draft and a slew of undrafted free agents, the majority of which are no longer with the team.

Yet the relatively low amount of rookies the Niners had last year doesn’t mean their second-year expectation levels are going to be low, too.

If anything, San Francisco is hoping each one of their selections and remaining UFDA selections from a little over a year ago are able to take a substantial leap in 2021.

Many football theorists believe players make their biggest jump, in terms of development, between years one and two. If this is the case for the 49ers’ array of second-year players, these four in particular should be the ones fans pay the most attention to over the course of the upcoming season.

No. 4: 49ers Running Back JaMycal Hasty

Earlier this offseason, there seemed to be a reasonable chance undrafted running back JaMycal Hasty wouldn’t make this year’s 53-man roster. At least not after tearing his ACL late in 2020 and then following the Niners’ additions of running backs Wayne Gallman, Trey Sermon and Elijah Mitchell in 2021.

But San Francisco’s loss of returning tailback Jeff Wilson Jr. to a meniscus tear that’ll keep him out for at least four months vastly increases the chance of Hasty to stick around.

Hasty, who only averaged 3.8 yards per carry on 39 attempts after eight games before his ACL tear, still flashed promise as a pass-catching scatback. And judging by one report from Sports Illustrated’s Grant Cohn during OTAs, Hasty appears as if he’s back stronger in 2021 already:

"Split time with rookie Elijah Mitchell as the No. 2 running back. Hasty looks bigger and stronger than he did last year when he was a rookie. The 49ers probably hope they can stash him on the practice squad, but he might not clear waivers."

Given the depth the 49ers still have at the position despite Wilson’s absence, Hasty isn’t guaranteed to make the cut.

Still, it’ll be interesting to see how well he performs in camp and during the preseason, potentially pushing off one of the other rushers on the Niners depth chart.