49ers breakout player No. 2: WR Brandon Aiyuk
Much like Deebo Samuel, wide receiver Brandon Aiyuk was expected to take a massive leap in year two after his impressive showing his rookie season.
Aiyuk also dealt with injuries, too, but his modest regression in 2021 appeared to have more to deal with being in head coach Kyle Shanahan’s proverbial “doghouse,” while not totally meshing with quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo.
Nevertheless, Aiyuk still managed to finish on a strong note, ending his sophomore campaign with 56 receptions and even besting his rookie receiving-yard totals with 826 in 2021.
Now, with quarterback Trey Lance poised to take over under center, Aiyuk should be in a much better position, both as a go-to target and as a deep threat. Lance is more akin to tossing deep passes against man coverage, and that’s a facet in which Aiyuk thrives.
Samuel and tight end George Kittle are likely to command the greatest attention from other teams’ best coverage options, meaning Aiyuk should see plenty of favorable matchups this season.
As such, and with Lance being better suited to take advantage of his talents, Aiyuk should finally turn into that bona fide complementary receiver to Samuel this season.