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Stan Szeto-USA TODAY Sports

The 49ers might have a 3rd YAC bro behind Deebo Samuel and Brandon Aiyuk

Rohan Chakravarthi
Aug 21, 2023 at 12:15 PM--

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When head coach Kyle Shanahan took over the San Francisco 49ers in 2017, he set out a vision for what his ideal offense would look like, starting with the skill position players.

That vision was finally realized when Shanahan hit on receivers high in back-to-back years, taking Deebo Samuel with the No. 36 pick in the 2019 NFL Draft and Brandon Aiyuk with the No. 25 pick in the 2020 NFL Draft.

Both have gone on to become top receivers in the NFL, with Samuel enjoying an All-Pro 2021 season where the wideout caught 77 passes for 1,405 yards, totaling 1,770 yards of scrimmage on the year, while Aiyuk broke out in 2022, eclipsing 1,000 yards for the first time in his career.

The 49ers also have elite tight end George Kittle, whose physical mindset and ability after the catch meshes well with his 49ers' counterparts, creating the YAC bros, standing for yards after the catch.

Well, San Francisco may have hit on a diamond in the rough with 2023 seventh-round pick Ronnie Bell, who has consistently flashed throughout training camp and the offseason, and caught seven passes for 114 yards on Sunday against the Denver Broncos, easily leading the 49ers in both categories.

When asked about his ability after the catch, Bell chided on his performance last season, and has looked to improve that aspect of his game, which has become more of a reality with the 49ers and their offensive style.

"100-percent. And as you said, it is something that I've always prided myself on," Bell said. "And last year, I wasn't very pleased with the way that I ran with the ball in my hands. That was something that was a big point of emphasis on myself to improve in my game. So yeah, that's something I want to continue to improve on, especially around these guys, the way that they're toting the ball. I want to be able to do the same thing."

While Bell has been a clear standout of the preseason, he made sure to note the group of talented playmakers around him, which has helped boost his improvements over the offseason.

"Yeah, playmakers," Bell said. "Exactly that. It's everything that I've always wanted to be about and been about. Just to be a part of this group, with these guys, is a huge blessing."

Bell noted, "It's something my dad's always been about when I was younger and when I first started playing. He has always called the receivers 'the playmakers,' and that's what I've always wanted to be about. So, I definitely just wanted to do that."

Bell's opportunities shouldn't wane next weekend, as the 49ers will get one more chance for their younger players to stand out prior to the regular season. Bell is ready for that opportunity and will look to continue rising to the occasion.

"I'm just grateful they called my number and get a chance to get the ball in my hands and be able to make a play," he said. "Really, the biggest thing is just blessed to have that opportunity."

The 49ers have seen success in late-round drafting under head coach Kyle Shanahan and general manager John Lynch. Bell could very well be the next late-round steal for the team, should he continue performing well in this system.

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