High expectations were placed on Brandon Aiyuk immediately after the 49ers traded up and selected the former Arizona State receiver with the No. 25 pick in the 2020 NFL Draft. Those hopes among The Faithful only have grown with Deebo Samuel and Richie James going down with injuries this offseason.
Samuel and James should be ready to go for the season if everything goes right in their recovery. It's never that easy, though.
There of course are concerns with any rookie's learning curve coming into the NFL. Those only have been heightened with this odd offseason. And Kyle Shanahan notoriously has one of the most complex playbooks in football. But there's good news when it comes to Aiyuk.
Aiyuk has some of the surest hands in the entire rookie draft class. His 5.5 percent drop rate was the third-best among six first-round receivers. Only Henry Ruggs and CeeDee Lamb, both drafted ahead of Aiyuk, performed better in the category.
Drop rate among 1st RD WRs:— PFF College (@PFF_College) July 10, 2020
1. Henry Ruggs III - 3.6%
2. Ceedee Lamb - 4.9%
3. Brandon Aiyuk - 5.5%
4. Jerry Jeudy - 5.6%
5. Jalen Reagor - 5.8%
6. Justin Jefferson - 5.9% pic.twitter.com/eTmm9qpUJe
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As a senior, Aiyuk hauled in 65 receptions for 1,192 yards and eight touchdowns in 12 games. He did this all while having a freshman quarterback, Jayden Daniels, throwing him passes last year. And he has shown off his sure hands this offseason, too.
Aiyuk made a great first impression on quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo. The rookie joined his QB and others in workouts at San Jose State last month, and he stood out to Garoppolo for more than his talent.
“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 told The Athletic's Matt Barrows. “And he was engaged, he was locked in. And he was a fun guy to be around, too.”
The 49ers are scheduled to start training camp July 25, and all eyes will be on Aiyuk. He has a great chance to carve out an important role with Samuel shelved, and he only will further solidify that by snagging every ball Garoppolo throws his way.