49ers

Kyle Shanahan compared 49ers' Brandon Aiyuk to Hall of Famer Issac Bruce

Kyle Shanahan compared 49ers' Brandon Aiyuk to Hall of Famer Issac Bruce

If you haven't realized this by now, Kyle Shanahan is an offensive genius who excels at finding players who will thrive in his scheme.

Tight end George Kittle and second-year wide receiver Deebo Samuel are two such examples of guys who went somewhat overlooked in the draft process, but Shanahan pinpointed as guys he wanted. The 49ers had a third-round grade on Kittle but gambled and waited until the fifth-round to take him. In a 2019 receiver class with A.J. Brown, DK Metcalf, N'Keal Harry and Marquise Brown, Samuel rarely was viewed among the top options in the draft, but Shanahan took him in the second round.

Both Kittle and Samuel thrived in San Francisco, which goes to show that if Shanahan likes an offensive player and you don't, you might want to re-think your scouting system.

Rookie wide receiver Brandon Aiyuk is the latest gadget in Shanahan's arsenal. The 49ers drafted the Arizona State wide receiver with the No. 25 overall pick, and Shanahan apparently was in love with the dynamic playmaker from the start of the scouting process.

"I think Kyle would probably agree with you there," NBC Sports' Chris Simms told Bleacher Report's Adam Lefkoe about Aiyuk being a big part of the 49ers' offense from the jump. "Kyle, throughout the draft process, was in love with Brandon Aiyuk, and it took a lot for me not to spit his name out more in the draft process."

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In one of the most loaded receiver classes in recent NFL history, it says something that Shanahan was zeroed in on Aiyuk with guys like Henry Ruggs, CeeDee Lamb and Jerry Jeudy leading the class. In a group with a number of potential stars, Shanahan was drawn to Aiyuk above the rest.

Once Shanahan and general manager John Lynch were able to put Aiyuk in red and gold, the 49ers coach likened his new receiver to a Pro Football Hall of Famer.

"Look, full transparency, I think he was thinking about taking him at pick [14] where he took Javon Kinlaw," Simms said. "He said to me, 'I think he's Isaac Bruce.' That's who I think I got here."

With Deebo Samuel suffering a Jones fracture in his foot during a workout with teammates in Nashville this offseason, Aiyuk will have even more on his plate to open his NFL career.

Aiyuk is a YAC king with an impressive 81-inch wingspan and speed to rip the top off a defense who models his game after Odell Beckham Jr. Shanahan no doubt spent all offseason drawing up plays to get the ball in Aiyuk's hands with space to turn a short gain into an explosive play. The 49ers drafted Aiyuk to help fill the void left by Emmanuel Sanders after the veteran joined the New Orleans Saints in free agency. But with Samuel possibly missing the first few games of the 2020 season, Aiyuk likely will be looked at as the top receiver in the pattern and No. 2 pass-catching option after Kittle.

[RELATED: Deebo's injury opens door for Aiyuk, Hurd, Jennings]

As for Shanahan's comparison, Bruce was one of the top receivers in the NFL for more than a decade. Part of the "Greatest Show on Turf" St. Louis Rams, Bruce, 6-foot, 190 pounds, was a route-running surgeon who finished his career with 15,208 yards, fifth all-time between Randy Moss and Tony Gonzalez. Like Aiyuk, Bruce didn't have an electric 40-yard dash time, but his quick-change ability and second burst made him one of the stars of the NFL's passing boom. Bruce had a great ability to find holes in the zone, catch the ball, take a hit a burst upfield for a big gain, leaving defenses shook.

Shanahan believes he has a player like that in Aiyuk.

If he's right, a number of NFL teams will have egg on their face for passing on Aiyuk.

Why 49ers' Fred Warner believes Kamala Harris as VP pick is 'big deal'

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Why 49ers' Fred Warner believes Kamala Harris as VP pick is 'big deal'

Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden helped make history Tuesday when he picked Sen. Kamala Harris to be his vice presidential running mate.

Sen. Harris, who was born in Oakland and served as the District Attorney in San Francisco, is the first Black and South Asian woman to be part of the ticket for a major political party in the United States.

That's meaningful for 49ers linebacker Fred Warner, who was a guest on "Race in America: A Candid Conversation," which will air Friday night after Giants Postgame Live on NBC Sports Bay Area and after A's Postgame Live on NBC Sports California.

"That's obviously a big deal," Warner told host Monte Poole. "Anytime a minority is put in a position of power, I think that's great for our country, and I think it was a big deal, just like when [Barack] Obama got elected as president, as the first Black president. So just continuing to strive to get people of color into positions where we can make change and do the right thing."

[RACE IN AMERICA: Listen to the latest episode]

Warner, who turns 24 a few weeks after the Nov. 3 election, told Poole that he will be voting for the president for the first time. He explained why he didn't vote in the 2016 election, when he was 19 years old at the time.

"I think I felt like I had this mindset that I’m not very educated on it, I didn't know who to vote for," Warner told Poole. "I was kind of confused about it, so I was like 'Well, I don’t want to vote for the wrong person.' Also I didn't really feel like my vote counted. I'm like 'I'm just one person. What is my vote going to mean especially if I'm not educated about it?' Now I'm like 'OK, I have just as much of a responsibility to vote as anyone else.'

"In order to make an intelligent and educated vote I need to make sure I'm doing the work outside of just playing football, you know, instead of going home and watching TV, I actually got to put some time in and make the right decision."

[RELATED: Warner says fighting injustices can't stop in NFL]

The first Tuesday in November will be a special day for both Sen. Harris and Warner.

NFL opt-out tracker: Every player who has declined to play 2020 season

NFL opt-out tracker: Every player who has declined to play 2020 season

As the sports world now is underway despite the coronavirus pandemic, the NFL is next up. There will be questions and concerns aplenty, too. 

Before training camp even begins, several players already have decided to opt out of the 2020 NFL season due to health concerns. That list is bound to grow as well.

Here is who will not be suiting up this season as the virus continues to run rampant. 

Laurent Duvernay-Tardif, OG, Kansas City Chiefs

Duvernay-Tardif, who has a medical degree from and has been working as an orderly at a long-term care facility in his hometown of Montreal, Quebec during the pandemic, became the first player to opt out of the 2020 season. The Chiefs' starting offensive guard tweeted his reasoning on July 24. 


De'Anthony Thomas, WR/KR, Baltimore Ravens 

Return specialist De'Anthony Thomas voluntarily opted out of the season, the Ravens announced Monday. 


Chance Warmack, OG, Seattle Seahawks

NFL Media's Mike Garafolo reported Monday that Warmack has opted out of the season. Warmack, who signed with the Seahawks this spring, also sat out last season 


Maurice Canady, CB, Dallas Cowboys

Garafolo also reported Monday that Canady is opting out of the season as well. 


Marcus Cannon, OL, New England Patriots

Cannon, who battled non-Hodgkins lymphoma in 2011, will not play in 2020.


Danny Vitale, FB, New England Patriots

Vitale and his wife recently had a baby, so the fullback will not be participating in the 2020 season.


Dont'a Hightower, LB, New England Patriots

Hightower, who has a two-week-old son, is choosing to protect his family's safety.


Brandon Bolden, RB, New England Patriots

ESPN's Adam Schefter reported Tuesday that Bolden is one of five Patriots to opt-out of the season.


Patrick Chung, S, New England Patriots

Add another Patriot to the list.


Najee Toran, OL, New England Patriots

Make that six Patriots. 


Marquise Goodwin, WR, Philadelphia Eagles

The former 49ers receiver announced he will not play this season after the birth of his daughter in February.


Andre Smith, OL, Baltimore Ravens

The Ravens announced Smith joined his teammate, De'Anthony Thomas, in opting out this year. 


Star Lotulelei, DT, Buffalo Bills

The Bills announced former first-round draft pick Star Lotulelei has opted out. 


Stephen Guidry, WR, Dallas Cowboys

The Cowboys annoinced undrafted rookie Stephen Guidry has opted out.


Devin Funchess, WR, Green Bay Packers

Funchess announced on Instagram that he has opted out of the season. 

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Eddie Vanderdoes, DT, Houston Texans

The former Raiders defensive lineman will not play in 2020.


Cole Wick, TE, New Orleans Saints

The veteran tight end will not play this season, according to NFL Media's Tom Pelissero.


Michael Pierce, DT, Minnesota Vikings

Pierce, who signed a three-year, $27 million contract this offseson, is high-risk and has opted out.


Nate Solder, LT, New York Giants

Solder opted out of the season, citing family's health concerns.

Damien Williams, RB, Kansas City Chiefs

The star of Super Bowl LIV has opted out of the season, the Chiefs announced.


Chandler Brewer, C, Los Angeles Rams

Brewer played seven games with the Rams after signing as an undrafted free agent last summer.

“With my history with non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma, I am at high risk and will opt out of playing in the NFL this season,” Brewer said in a statement posted to the team’s website. “I would like to thank the Rams for their support and I look forward to getting back on the field in 2021 and beyond."

Marquise Lee, WR, New England Patriots

The USC product became a father for the first time in February, and cited his newborn daughter as a major factor in his decision.

"This is a big sit-down process I had, with me and my significant other, as far as family goes. The risk factor in which we believe that's going out there, it just wasn't worth it in a sense. Just too many unknowns," Lee told ESPN.com.

C.J. Mosley, LB, New York Jets

The four-time Pro Bowl linebacker is citing family health concerns as his reason for opting out, ESPN's Rich Cimini reported Saturday.


E.J. Gaines, CB, Buffalo Bills

Bills general manager Brandon Beane says the cornerback will sit out the 2020 season. 


Matt LaCosse, TE, New England Patriots

Matt LaCosse is the eighth Patriot to opt out of the season.


Da'Mari Scott, WR, New York Giants

The Giants were informed by Scott that he is opting out of the 2020 season.


Geronimo Allison, WR, Detroit Lions

ESPN's Adam Schefter reported Sunday, citing a source, that Allison has decided to opt out of the season.


D.J. Killings, CB and Jeremiah Valoaga, DE, Las Vegas Raiders

The Raiders announced Monday that Killings and Valoaga opted out of the season.

Travis Benjamin, WR, San Francisco 49ers

A day after general manager John Lynch said he didn't expect any 49ers to opt out of the season, Benjamin announced on Twitter that he was doing just that.

Shon Coleman, OL and Jake Brendel, OL, San Francisco 49ers

Ukeme Eligwe, LB, Las Vegas Raiders

Anthony McKinney, OL, Tennessee Titans

Allen Hurns, WR and Albert Wilson, WR, Miami Dolphins

Lerentee McCray, EDGE and Rashaan Melvin, CB, Jacksonville Jaguars

Christian Miller, LB Carolina Panthers

Colby Gossett, OL, Cleveland Browns

Brad Seaton, OT, Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Caleb Brantley, DE, Washington Football Team

Jordan Mack, LB Carolina Panthers

Eddie Goldman, DT and Jordan Lucas, S, Chicago Bears

Josh Tupou, DT and Isaiah Prince, OT, Cincinnati Bengals

Drew Forbes, G, Drake Dorbeck, T, Andrew Billings, DT, and Malcolm Pridgeon, G, Cleveland Browns

Jamize Olawale, FB, Dallas Cowboys

Kyle Peko, DT and Ja'Wuan James, RT, Denver Broncos

John Atkins, DT and Russell Bodine, C, Detroit Lions

Skai Moore, LB, Rolan Milligan, DB and Marvell Tell, DB, Indianapolis Colts

Al Woods, DT Jacksonville Jaguars

Lucas Niang, OT, Kansas City Chiefs

Jason Vander Laan, TE, New Orleans Saints

Sam Beal, CB, New York Giants

Leo Koloamatangi, OL and Josh Doctson, WR, New York Jets

Josh Harvey-Clemons, LB, Washington Football Team

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