49ers

Where 49ers' Brandon Aiyuk ranks among NFL first-round rookie wideouts

Where 49ers' Brandon Aiyuk ranks among NFL first-round rookie wideouts

Pundits raved about the depth of talent available at the wide receiver position in the 2020 NFL Draft. The 49ers -- by selecting Arizona State product Brandon Aiyuk -- were one of six NFL teams that chose to utilize a first-round draft pick on a wide receiver. 

Rookie wideouts tend to have mixed results. NFL offenses require a major adjustment mentally for many elite wide receivers, who often come from college offenses with less complicated schemes. Marquise Brown was the first receiver off the board in the 2019 draft to the Baltimore Ravens, and had a strong rookie season in which he hauled in seven touchdowns. N'Keal Harry -- a college teammate of Aiyuk's at ASU -- went with the final pick of that first round to the New England Patriots, but couldn't find his footing in Josh McDaniel's offense and barely surpassed 100 yards receiving.

Deebo Samuel became the 49ers' No. 1 wide receiver by the end of his rookie season after being a second-round selection, but a fractured foot suffered during an offseason workout could lead to some increased opportunity for Aiyuk in Kyle Shanahan's offense, should Samuel be unable to return for the start of the 2020 season.

But how will Aiyuk's rookie production stack up with the other five wideouts taken in this year's first round? We ranked the group 1-6, and Aiyuk's spot might be a surprise to some of the 49ers Faithful.

CLICK HERE TO SEE HOW THE 2020 NFL DRAFT'S WIDE RECEIVER CLASS WILL PERFORM AS ROOKIES

Russell Wilson, Deshaun Watson show interest in signing Antonio Brown

Russell Wilson, Deshaun Watson show interest in signing Antonio Brown

Around and around we go.

Almost any other wide receiver who burned as many bridges as Antonio Brown has over the last two years would never draw interest from another NFL team ever again. But due to his tantalizing talent and prolific production, he continues to get the benefit of the doubt.

He doesn't deserve it, but it's understandable. Forget receivers, when Brown is on the field, there are few offensive players more frightening for defensive coordinators. Of course, he also has proven himself to be a nightmare for his own coaches. Thus is the risk/reward factor he presents.

Despite his risk far outweighing the reward as of late, interest in Brown doesn't appear to be waning. 

Back in May, it was reported that Seattle Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson "would love" to add Brown to his receiving corps. A little more than a month later, the two were connecting on routes on a practice field.

Yes, that is a Raiders helmet that Brown is wearing. How'd his time in Oakland go, again? But I digress...

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Wilson doesn't appear to be the only star quarterback interested in adding Brown to his roster. After former NFL receiver Chad Johnson took to Twitter to express his preference for Brown to join the Texans, Houston QB Deshaun Watson didn't exactly pour cold water on the idea.

The Texans were on the wrong end of one of the more one-sided trades in recent memory this offseason when they questionably sent standout receiver DeAndre Hopkins to the Arizona Cardinals. Houston did acquire Brandin Cooks from the Los Angeles Rams, but perhaps Watson believes his receiving corps is missing an ingredient.

[RELATED: 49ers don't need Brown to be favorites, but Seahawks might]

If Brown is signed -- which is a big if -- it's unlikely he would be able to play much at all this coming season, regardless of which team signed him. A trio of Personal Conduct Policy investigations must be concluded before he can sign with a team, and even if all that is settled, it is widely expected that he would be facing a lengthy suspension upon rejoining the league.

Do you trust Brown to behave through that entire process? At this point, it's difficult to understand why anyone would. But clearly, some players still feel the risk is worth the reward.

Why Warren Moon believes 49ers are favorites in competitive NFC West

Why Warren Moon believes 49ers are favorites in competitive NFC West

The 49ers ran through the NFC playoffs, held a double-digit lead in the fourth quarter of Super Bowl LIV and arguably have improved this offseason. So, they've got to be the favorites in their own division, right?

It wouldn't exactly be going out on a limb to take that stance, as San Francisco currently is the betting favorite to emerge not just from the NFC West, but the conference as a whole. There's a reason for that, and Hall of Fame quarterback Warren Moon doesn't disagree.

"You'd have to go with San Francisco right now," Moon said Thursday on 95.7 The Game's "Joe, Lo and Dibs" show when asked which team is the favorite in the NFC West. "I mean, they're the defending NFC champs. They bring back pretty much everybody from that football team. 

"They've lost a couple of receivers, but I still think they have a lot of good talent on their team. Their strength is going to be in their running game. I think their offensive line just got strengthened by signing (Trent Williams). So, they're going to be the team to beat, but this is going to be one of the more competitive divisions in the NFL.

"You've got Seattle, who's going to be right there. ... And then you always have the Rams, who you just don't know how good they're going to be. And then Arizona is going to be much more improved. So this is going to be a very, very competitive division, as it usually is."

[RELATED: Report: 49ers' Mostert requested pay raise this offseason]

The 49ers might be the deserved favorites in the division, but Moon is correct. The NFC West was tough enough last year, when San Francisco split the season series with the Seahawks and went down to the wire in both meetings with the Cardinals. As good as the 49ers are, claiming a second straight division title will be no easy task.

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