No. 1: 49ers want to continue pushing Brandon Aiyuk forward
The Niners already boast a top wide receiver this season in Deebo Samuel, who currently ranks second in receiving yards with 819 despite having played one fewer game in 2021 than the other players in the top five.
But the bigger catch and a potential deterrent to an Odell Beckham pickup here is the likelihood his addition would alter or delay what efforts San Francisco has put into place to get second-year wide receiver Brandon Aiyuk back on track.
Aiyuk, who impressed so much his rookie season, fell out of favor early in 2021 and was rumored to be in Kyle Shanahan’s doghouse. Shanahan, who holds lofty standards for his wide receivers, has finally started to see Aiyuk turn that proverbial page, though, and an increase in usage in recent weeks suggests Aiyuk is returning to prominence within the offense.
Related Story: Brandon Aiyuk must be featured more in 49ers offense
Shanahan’s offense, even when it’s running at full capacity, isn’t known for massive pass distributions. No, it’s a run-first scheme, and tertiary wide receivers typically only receive two or three catches per game at the most, not unlike what now-New England Patriots wide receiver Kendrick Bourne generally did in 2019 when he played a third option to Samuel and then-49ers wideout Emmanuel Sanders.
Either Beckham or Aiyuk would have to fall into that tertiary role, and it’s likely both of those two would see their target shares impacted dramatically.
From a pure development standpoint, the Niners would be better off promoting Aiyuk instead of the injury-risk player Beckham is now at this stage of his career.