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Kyle Juszczyk: 49ers WR Brandon Aiyuk “just looks different than everyone else on the field”

Jun 8, 2023 at 11:03 AM--

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Anything short of topping his 78-catch, 1,015-receiving-yard, and eight-touchdown performance from last season might disappoint San Francisco 49ers wide receiver Brandon Aiyuk. All were career highs, and the fourth-year wideout expects more of himself in 2023.

"I'm about to take off," Aiyuk declared last week. "That's it. ... We all know it's football. Nothing's ever guaranteed, but just getting a better understanding for my life as a person, and then as a football player, kind of putting those things together and then just looking to get better."

If Aiyuk does "take off" during the upcoming season, it creates an interesting predicament for the organization. When quarterback storylines routinely dominate 49ers offseasons, the team could be bracing for a bit of a wide receiver controversy.

Deebo Samuel only carries an $8.65 million salary cap figure in 2023. That number will jump to $28.6 million in 2024, per Can the 49ers afford to keep Samuel and Aiyuk under contract while maintaining the talented roster depth they have enjoyed for years? The team might have to make a decision, seeing that Aiyuk will be seeking a nice payday next year.

"We'll get there when we get there," Aiyuk told Michael Silver of The San Francisco Chronicle.

Next year is next year. The 49ers are focused on this season. Even Bosa, seeking a massive contract extension this offseason, isn't too concerned about the finances. The reigning NFL Defensive Player of the Year is confident that a deal will get done before or around the start of training camp.

"Yeah, I think I'm pretty confident about that," Bosa said, adding that he thinks he'll "get what I deserve."

One 49ers veteran believes the team is in a unique situation right now. Much of the financial concerns are at least a year away, providing a nice window for San Francisco in 2023.

"It's a money league, and you can't keep everyone forever," Juszczyk told Silver this week, "and eventually, guys move on from their rookie contracts and have to get paid. I do think we're definitely in a sweet spot right now."

For now, Aiyuk and Samuel are just looking to get better, learn from each other, and help the 49ers win a championship. Everything else can wait until after the upcoming season.

"I mean, he's a great, great, great, great player," Aiyuk said of Samuel while speaking to Silver. "He goes out there and does spectacular things all the time. Me being able to watch him and see stuff that he does motivates me and makes me want to be better, and I think he feels the same way."

Aiyuk has stood out this offseason, looking like one of the best players on the practice field during organized team activities (OTAs) and this week's minicamp. It's been a vast improvement compared to his earlier NFL years. Even Juszczyk has been shocked by the difference while watching the film of his teammate during meetings.

"I thought, 'Oh, that's BA? Wow. He moves different now,'" Juszczyk shared. "I told him after the meeting, 'It's just crazy how much more efficient and explosive you look now.' I think it's because he's so confident in where he's going. When you have to think, you play a little slower. But I've been talking to everyone these past two weeks: BA just looks different than everyone else on the field."

Click here to read Silver's entire feature on Aiyuk, Samuel, and their 49ers futures.


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