The hype and anticipation for the Brandon Aiyuk's NFL debut has been steadily growing ever since the 49ers drafted him with the No. 25 overall pick in April.
The Arizona State wide receiver is the perfect blend of speed and elusiveness to thrive in Kyle Shanahan's offense. With Deebo Samuel possibly missing the start of the season with a Jones Fracture in his foot, and Jalen Hurd out for the season with a torn ACL, a lot will be placed on Aiyuk's shoulders to steady the receiving corps early.
While it still is early in training camp, Aiyuk's talent already is apparent to George Kittle.
"The things that I've noticed is that he has incredible hands and that dude is really fast," Kittle told 95.7 The Game's "Jo, Lo and Dibs." "He doesn't even look like he's running, he just kind of glides along the ground. It's kind of insane. I like seeing how he can get in the huddle with the ones and he can execute. That's really fun to see, and, of course, we all mess up sometimes but he always comes in and catches the next ball. Honestly, I haven't seen him drop a pass which is pretty sick, too. He's having a great camp so far, and I know that the longer we are here and together, the better he's going to get."
"There's flashes that you can see,” Garoppolo said. “He has a good feel for feeling the zones and when it's man-to-man, he knows when to break off routes and just do what he has to do to get open.
“It's a real natural instinct, just running routes for him. It's really cool to throw routes to a guy like that. He sees the field very similar to a quarterback and it makes my job very easy.”
Without Samuel and Hurd, Kendrick Bourne is atop the 49ers' depth chart at receiver with Aiyuk, Trent Taylor and Jauan Jennings looking to help carry the load until Samuel returns.
Aiyuk should play an instrumental role in the 49ers march back to the Super Bowl.
Shanahan has built an offense that is predicated on getting dynamic playmakers the ball in space and letting them rack up yards after the catch. Kittle and Samuel have thrived in the system, and Aiyuk, who was one of the best college receivers at forcing missed tackles, should find success early with the 49ers. Aiyuk's speed also will be a game-changer for the 49ers. Last season, only three NFL players reached a higher in-game speed than the 21.97 mph that Aiyuk clocked at Arizona State. That ability to take the top off the defense should make the 49ers defense all the more lethal once it is at full strength.
Rookie receivers often struggle initially with their transition to the NFL, but the 49ers need Aiyuk to hit the ground running and be a threat early in the season.
From what Kittle has seen so far, there's no reason to think that won't be the case.