Coach Kyle Shanahan works hard to design schemes on offense to stress the rules of the defense.
The goal is that is opens the field up for his receivers and allows them to turn short and intermediate routes into big gains after the catch.
On Thursday, the 49ers moved up six spots to No. 25 overall in a trade with the Minnesota Vikings to select Arizona State wide receiver Brandon Aiyuk.
He is a yards-after-the-catch machine. Aiyuk (pronounced Eye-yook) averaged 18.3 yards per reception last season, and more than 11 of those yards came after the catch. He also offers the 49ers some options in the return game with his skills on punts and kickoffs.
Aiyuk (5-foot-11 5/8, 205 pounds) ran the 40-yard dash in 4.50 seconds at the NFL Scouting Combine while also battling a core muscle injury that required surgery this month. He should be ready to go when the 49ers open training camp.
[49ERS INSIDER PODCAST: Listen to the latest episode]
He was only a one-year starter at Arizona State after transferring from Sierra College in Rocklin – the site of the 49ers’ old summer home for training camp during their five Super Bowl titles. He played behind N’Keal Harry, a first-round pick of the New England Patriots last year.
The 49ers did not bite at wide receiver earlier in the first round when they could have selected Jerry Jeudy or CeeDee Lamb. The 49ers spent their first draft pick of the day on South Carolina defensive tackle Javon Kinlaw.
Instead, they waited until five receivers flew off the board to guarantee they would get one of their top targets.
Now, the 49ers expect Aiyuk to be a top target of Jimmy Garoppolo in the 49ers’ passing game.
At the end of last season, Shanahan had confidence in only Emmanuel Sanders, Deebo Samuel and Kendrick Bourne. Sanders moved on to the New Orleans Saints as a free agent.
As much as the 49ers hope Trent Taylor and Jalen Hurd will be healthy and take on big roles in the offense, the 49ers had to make a move to take advantage of a deep-and-talented draft class. Aiyuk should be able to carve out a role in the offense from Day 1.
[RELATED: Grading 49ers' Aiyuk draft pick]
But he has some work to do to unseat Bourne, who has gotten more reliable through his three seasons with the club.
The 49ers do not need Aiyuk to play every down, like Sanders. But they need him to step in and fill a critical part of the offense to give Shanahan and Garoppolo another wide receiver they both can trust.