Justin Jefferson in the 49ers offense? Oh, what could have been.
The No. 22 overall pick in the 2020 NFL Draft has very quickly established himself as one of the best wide receivers in the league in just a season and a half.
After catching 88 passes for 1,400 yards and seven touchdowns in his rookie campaign last season, Jefferson has continued to produce at an elite level in his second season.
Having caught 63 passes for 944 yards and six touchdowns through 10 games this season, Jefferson has an excellent shot at surpassing his rookie season totals with seven games still left to play.
Facing off against the 49ers at Levi's Stadium on Sunday, Jefferson has an opportunity to remind coach Kyle Shanahan and San Francisco what they missed out on in the 2020 draft.
"We looked at him real close," Shanahan said of Jefferson in a press conference Wednesday. "We looked at all those receivers real close. And we were huge fans, and I think he’s one of the best receivers in the league, if not the best. So, I think he's been unbelievable. I love his style of play. He reminds me a ton of [ex-49ers, now-Buffalo Bills wide receiver] Emmanuel Sanders back in the day. But he's a hell of a player.”
The Vikings owned the Nos. 22 and 25 picks entering the 2020 NFL Draft after acquiring another first-round draft pick with a trade that sent wide receiver Stefon Diggs to the Buffalo Bills.
Minnesota selected Jefferson at No. 22, then the 49ers traded with the Vikings to pick Brandon Aiyuk at No. 25. The 49ers earlier selected defensive tackle Javon Kinlaw at No. 14.
Both Aiyuk and Jefferson had fantastic rookie seasons, but it's Jefferson who has carried that same level of success into this season, while Aiyuk struggled to maintain a consistent role in the 49ers offense throughout much of the first half of the season.