High expectations come with being a first-round pick in the NFL draft. But what exactly should 49ers fans expect out of Brandon Aiyuk?
Coach Kyle Shanahan loved Aiyuk so much before the draft he debated taking the former Arizona State receiver with the No. 13 overall pick. Instead, the 49ers added defensive tackle Javon Kinlaw one pick later before trading up to grab Aiyuk at No. 25 overall this past April.
The 49ers clearly see a ton of potential in Aiyuk. It could, however, be tough for him to put up huge numbers as a rookie.
NFL Media's Cynthia Frelund projected through analytics which rookie receivers will be the most productive in Year 1. Dallas' CeeDee Lamb topped the list, but Aiyuk wasn't mentioned until the seventh spot on Frelund's rankings. This more a result of the 49ers' roster than Aiyuk's talent, though.
"His upside is tempered by the presence of other young receivers (like Kendrick Bourne and Deebo Samuel), who also will realize increased opportunities," Frelund wrote. "For now, this nets out at Aiyuk ranking No. 57 among WRs."
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Deebo Samuel is expected to be the 49ers' No. 1 receiver this season, and tight end George Kittle still will be quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo's top target. Shanahan also has an extremely complicated playbook, and the 49ers have a deep group of pass-catchers. But there's good news when it comes to Aiyuk, too.
Garoppolo has been holding workouts with receivers in the offseason, and the first-rounder really impressed his QB.
“You can tell when you’re calling a play and you look into a guy’s eye and know if he’s taking it in or if it’s like, ‘What the hell is this guy saying?' ” Garoppolo recently told The Athletic's Matt Barrows. “And he was engaged, he was locked in. And he was a fun guy to be around, too.”
There will be road blocks and hurdles along the way after dealing with extremely odd circumstances to start his professional career. However, Aiyuk certainly has the talent to exceed expectations of being the seventh-most productive rookie receiver this year.