Last season, then-rookie Nick Bosa was a big reason for the 49ers' 13-3 record.
This year, another rookie might be the key to the team's overall success.
Former 49ers quarterback Steve Young, now an ESPN analyst, believes Brandon Aiyuk holds all the cards for the 49ers as they enter a daunting seven-game stretch after this Sunday's matchup against the Miami Dolphins.
Young was asked this week on KNBR for his thoughts on Aiyuk.
"It makes me feel like it's possible that Jimmy gets hot and starts to throw three or four [touchdowns] a game and we run the table," Young said on Wednesday's "Tolbert, Krueger & Brooks" show. "And as long as we get some average to above-average protection and we have Deebo [Samuel] and the guys, and George and everybody gets rolling, we can run the ball like we did, now we're in every ballgame.
"And we get some things to bounce our way in these tough games in New Orleans or New England or the Rams, Seattle, then all of sudden, seven [games] in the toughest stretch and we go 5-2, somehow. I think that's how we're going to do it. Aiyuk's going to get hot, and everyone is going to have his jersey on by the end of the year."
After the Dolphins game at Levi's Stadium, the 49ers are scheduled to play the Los Angeles Rams, Patriots, Seattle Seahawks, Green Bay Packers, New Orleans Saints, the Rams again and the Buffalo Bills. There is a bye mixed in between the Saints and Rams games.
That's a brutal stretch for a team dealing with so many injuries. But the 49ers are getting healthy at the right time. Samuel and tight end George Kittle returned last week.
How will Young know if the 49ers are in good shape by the time they complete that seven-game gauntlet in December?
"If the big jersey for Christmas for 49ers fans is Aiyuk, we're in the mix," Young said.
Time for 49ers fans to ask Santa for a few wins and a No. 11 Aiyuk jersey.