49ers

49ers' Brandon Aiyuk sixth-best rookie receiver in Madden 21 ratings

49ers' Brandon Aiyuk sixth-best rookie receiver in Madden 21 ratings

The Brandon Aiyuk hype among 49ers fans has grown exponentially ever since he was drafted 25th overall in April.

The sixth receiver to come off the board in the 2020 NFL Draft, Aiyuk is expected to make an immediate impact with his elite breakaway speed, which he showcased numerous times during his two seasons at Arizona State.

But based on the just-released Madden 21 ratings, Aiyuk isn't even among the fastest wide receivers in his rookie class. In fact, he's just the sixth-best rookie wideout according to the video game's new ratings, checking in at 72 overall.

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The rookie receivers' overall ratings were almost identical to their draft positions, with the Denver Broncos' Jerry Jeudy and the Dallas Cowboys' CeeDee Lamb swapping places being the only alteration.

When it comes to speed, however, Aiyuk checks in as the 10th-fastest rookie wide receiver, behind a handful of players drafted well behind him.

[RELATED: George Kittle 'really proud' of team's offseason work, effort]

Aiyuk's 40-yard dash time at the NFL Scouting Combine wasn't exactly elite (4.54 seconds), but during his senior season, he was tracked with a top in-game speed of 21.97 mph -- a mark bested by just three NFL players in 2019.

Game speed is different than track speed, and Aiyuk brings game speed in spades every time he takes the field.

Guessing those ratings might be adjusted once Aiyuk actually sees some on-field action in a 49ers uniform.

49ers need production from Trent Taylor with Travis Benjamin's opt-out

49ers need production from Trent Taylor with Travis Benjamin's opt-out

The 49ers almost certainly will be in the market for another speedy wide receiver after Travis Benjamin announced his decision Tuesday night to opt out of the upcoming season.

Benjamin’s exit marks the fourth 49ers receiver from the player-organized offseason workouts who will not be on the field when the team’s practices begin.

Deebo Samuel, the team’s top receiver, could be out for the first six weeks of the regular season after undergoing offseason foot surgery to repair a Jones fracture. Slot receiver Richie James is also on the non-football injury list due to a fractured wrist.

The 49ers recently waived another slot receiver, former Notre Dame standout Chris Finke, who failed a physical due to a hamstring injury.

While the 49ers could bring in another wide receiver for training camp, they certainly will expect one of their own to soften the blow of Benjamin's absence.

Benjamin had a history with 49ers coach Kyle Shanahan from when they were together with the Cleveland Browns in 2014. When asked after his signing why he is such a good fit for the offense, Benjamin answered, “Speed. Kyle loves speed.”

Benjamin, like James and Finke, is a slot receiver and a strong option as a punt returner.

Now, it’s more important than ever that Trent Taylor remains healthy and in a contributing role.

Benjamin’s spot on the 49ers’ roster for 2020 was not guaranteed after signing a one-year contract with the 49ers. He said he knew his job was to come in to compete for a job. He caught just 18 passes for 216 yards and one touchdown over 17 games in the past two seasons with the Los Angeles Chargers.

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After 54 players around the league already had chosen through Tuesday to opt out of the season due to concerns over the COVID-19 pandemic, Benjamin made his announcement. He wrote in a statement that he made the decision “after much consideration and discussion” with his family.

Benjamin will remain under contract to the 49ers for the 2021 season with a salary cap figure of $1.05 million. Receivers Kendrick Bourne and Taylor are scheduled for unrestricted free agency after this season.

[RELATED49ers' Jerick McKinnon excites Jimmy Garoppolo as pass-catching option]

Benjamin, 30, an eight-year NFL veteran, came to the 49ers as an insurance policy. Taylor, if healthy, always wa considered the 49ers’ top option at slot receiver.

The problem is that Taylor has not been healthy since his rookie season in 2017. Taylor caught the same number of passes (43) as George Kittle during their rookie seasons. Taylor had 430 yards receiving and two touchdowns.

He also was productive as a punt returner with a 9.4-yard average on 30 returns.

NFL rumors: 49ers expected to sign Dion Jordan for added D-line depth

NFL rumors: 49ers expected to sign Dion Jordan for added D-line depth

It appears the 49ers will be adding to their defensive line.

NFL Media's Ian Rapoport reported Wednesday morning that the 49ers are expected to sign defensive end Dion Jordan. 

The 49ers hosted the former No. 3 overall draft pick Tuesday, and clearly liked what they saw. Jordan, 30, recorded two sacks last season in seven games with the Raiders.

Jordan hasn't lived up to his draft status since the Miami Dolphins selected him in 2013. The former Oregon Duck also has dealt with a long list of off-field issues. 

[49ERS INSIDER PODCAST: Listen to the latest episode]

He was reinstated by the NFL last November after serving a 10-game suspension for Adderall. He also missed the entire 2015 season for violating the league's substance-abuse policy, and has been suspended several other times as well. 

Between the Dolphins, Raiders and Seattle Seahawks, Jordan has 10.5 career sacks over 50 games.

[RELATED: Why Clowney isn't an option in 49ers' edge-rusher search]

The 49ers' defensive line is a strength, but their pass rush on the outside actually is thin. Nick Bosa is a star, and the same goes for Dee Ford when healthy. Arik Armstead plays defensive end in base situations, though he is more effective working inside as a nickel pass-rusher. And then there's Ronald Blair, who is working back from a torn ACL.

Aside from that group, the 49ers could use some help on the outside. Jordan always has been skilled, and should be worth a gamble for the reigning NFC champions.