The San Francisco 49ers have a young, promising pair of wide receivers. Could Deebo Samuel and Brandon Aiyuk be considered the best WR duo by the end of the season?
There is no shortage of talent at the wide receiver position around the NFL. In today’s passing league, we have seen receivers take a front seat as one of the most coveted positions in the NFL Draft and they are making their presence felt on the field faster than ever.
When looking around the league, there are many teams that possess an excellent pair of receivers that help maximize their team’s offensive potential. Last year, many considered the Cincinnati Bengals to possess the top wide receiver duo in the league with budding stars Ja’Marr Chase and Tee Higgins.
Others around the NFL would love to throw their hat in the ring for this debate. All-Pro WR Tyreek Hill joined Jaylen Waddle in Miami this offseason. They could prove to be a dynamic duo. The same argument could be made for Davante Adams and Hunter Renfrow, DeAndre Hopkins and Marquise Brown, or A.J. Brown and DeVonta Smith (among several others).
However, I would argue that Deebo Samuel and Brandon Aiyuk have a chance to take the cake in this argument when the 2022 season concludes.
We already know that Deebo is an animal. After impressing in his first two NFL seasons despite being banged up and missing time, Samuel took the world by storm in 2021 when he recorded 1,770 scrimmage yards to go with 14 total touchdowns and led the league with 18.2 yards per reception, via Pro Football Reference. This allowed him to rake in a massive contract extension this past offseason.
Now he has a running mate who could be the ‘Robin’ to his ‘Batman.’ Brandon Aiyuk has been quite impressive in his first two seasons. This was a player I was very high on coming out of college despite taking the JUCO route.
Aiyuk’s targets per game dipped significantly in his second season in 2021. Remarkably, he managed to be more productive and efficient with his looks — turning 84 targets into 826 yards and 5 touchdowns.
Can 49ers have best WR duo in the NFL in 2022?
I think most would already consider Deebo Samuel and Brandon Aiyuk to be one of the best up-and-coming WR duos in the NFL, but could they be considered the very best in the league by the end of the 2022 season? This is well within the realm of possibility, but that might hinge on the QB play San Francisco gets this year.
In 2021, veteran Jimmy Garoppolo once again proved to be at least a viable option at the position — going 9-6 as a starter while chipping in 3,810 passing yards. Now the 49ers are going to undergo a major change. After a season to sit and learn, Trey Lance will be the starting quarterback in 2022, and this could go one of two ways.
It’s possible that Lance — a small-school prospect without much starting experience in college — could struggle early in his career as he continues to get acclimated to the game. If this is the case, Deebo and Auiyuk could take a step backward this year, in terms of both raw statistics and efficiency.
However, if Lance proves to be the player that Kyle Shanahan thought he was getting when the team mortgaged the house for him during the 2021 offseason, the impressive numbers by Samuel and Aiyuk could get even better.
While there are numerous factors that go into evaluating the wide receiver position, for many, this is going to come back to a numbers game. Even if Samuel and Aiyuk are efficient, they won’t be considered the best duo if their stats aren’t on par with the likes of Ja’Marr Chase and Tee Higgins (or whichever duo tops the league this year).
I can’t say that I agree with this logic, but it’s just the way the consensus will view things. Regardless, If Trey Lance can be a step up from Jimmy Garoppolo last season, I think there’s a very reasonable chance the consensus could shift and we could be looking at Deebo Samuel and Brandon Aiyuk as the best WR duo in the NFL by next offseason.