The 49ers sent plenty of names to the Pro Bowl in 2023, but Brandon Aiyuk surprisingly wasn't one of them.
In many ways, the Pro Bowl is more of a popularity contest than it is an accurate representation of the best players in the NFL. If it's not that, it can simply be a representation of who's available to play in a meaningless all-star game.
Heck, quarterback Mitchell Trubisky was a one-time Pro Bowler. That says something.
Still, there are plenty of reasons why being named a Pro Bowler is an accolade. Aside from incentives that are often worked into players' contracts, a Pro Bowl nod or two is a bragging right. And it's a justification for all the hard work put into an excellent season.
So, why didn't San Francisco 49ers wide receiver Brandon Aiyuk make his first Pro Bowl after a career-best regular season in 2023?
Aiyuk was the Niners' leading pass-catcher with 75 receptions for 1,342 yards and seven touchdowns, which is quite commendable on an offense that includes other star players like tight end George Kittle, running back Christian McCaffrey and fellow wideout Deebo Samuel, all of whom took away potential touches from Aiyuk.
Kittle and McCaffrey both made the Pro Bowl. Samuel and Aiyuk were named alternates.
A snub? Probably. But, how did Aiyuk feel about not being named?
Brandon Aiyuk on Pro Bowl snub: 'It was tough at first'
Aiyuk met with reporters during San Francisco's week of practice prior to Wild Card weekend of the playoffs. Having clinched the No. 1 seed in the conference, Aiyuk and the 49ers won't play until the divisional round, and the extra break will be refreshing and needed.
It also provided some time for reflection, especially for Aiyuk when asked about the Pro Bowl snub and some of the other names who got in.
"It was tough at first, but we'll see," Aiyuk said, via 49ers Webzone. "Probably pretty much every one of those guys, at one point, they have to come through San Francisco, so it's all good."
CeeDee Lamb of the Dallas Cowboys, A.J. Brown of the Philadelphia Eagles, Mike Evans of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and rookie Puka Nacua of the Los Angeles Rams all ended up making the Pro Bowl at wide receiver.
"I know what I did this season," Aiyuk continued. "Everybody, we all play this game for... we want something to show for it. We want to get some accolades, get something to show for the work that we put in. But at the end of the day, I looked at this season, even though it's nowhere close to being done, the regular season, and what I went out to do. I would say I got to do that, so it's all good."
Aiyuk will hope that he can prove the naysayers wrong by playing a massive role in the 49ers' upcoming postseason campaign and push to a potential Super Bowl.