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Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports

If the 49ers draft a wide receiver, don’t expect it to be a smaller guy

Marc Adams
Apr 13, 2024 at 11:49 AM

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The San Francisco 49ers are in good shape for 2024 when it comes to the wide receiver position. What that room looks like after this coming season remains to be seen. Most believe the 49ers will give Brandon Aiyuk a new contract around the start of training camp. But there are no guarantees. As it was reported on Friday, Aiyuk unfollowed the 49ers on Instagram, much like Deebo Samuel did two years ago.

It seems to be how modern-day players negotiate. It's not necessarily anything to be concerned about, but you never truly know how these things will end. There is still potential that the 49ers could trade the star receiver in the next couple of weeks.

If Aiyuk is extended, it could signal that 2024 will be Samuel's final season with the team. But he will almost certainly be with the team in 2024. Jauan Jennings and Chris Conley are two other receivers the 49ers know they can count on. Danny Gray and Ronnie Bell, meanwhile, are two young players who still haven't made much of an impact.

In the latest episode of The Red and Bold Show, Anthony Robertson, of 49ers Cutback, and I discussed if the 49ers might draft a wide receiver in a couple of weeks during the NFL Draft. We both agreed that they would certainly draft one, maybe even two wide receivers. "I think they're going to draft a wide receiver," Robertson said. "I think they're going to bring someone in to compete because I don't think they're sold on a wide receiver beyond Jauan Jennings. I think that Aiyuk, Deebo, Jauan, you feel good.

"Ray-Ray's [McCloud] moved on. Now you've got Danny Gray. We haven't really seen anything from Danny Gray. We got Ronnie Bell. He ended up being inactive. He struggles to block. That's a real problem. 'No block, no rock' for Kyle Shanahan. And then you got Chris Conley. They're probably the most comfortable with Conley."

One of the more interesting things that my co-host said had to do with the size of the receivers he expects the 49ers to draft. Robertson anticipates the team to draft bigger, more physical receivers.

"So I think that there is a definite way the 49ers can approach this draft," Robertson continued. "I think they need to get somebody that's big, physical, and fast, and I think that's what they're probably going to do. So I don't know if they're going to look for guys that are smaller.

"We've seen so far the guys they've met with have been more physical type receivers. I think they've got a particular type they're looking for. I don't know if that is potentially to replace anyone, but I think they're looking for a certain type of guy, and I would expect them to draft one wide receiver. I wouldn't even be shocked if they didn't draft two because they need to make sure that they have the guys that can handle the situation."

Robertson is right about who the 49ers have been looking into. They've met with over 20 wide receivers so far. By and large, the receivers the 49ers have shown interest in have been bigger. But we can also look at who they have, and who they may have to replace, to see what the 49ers like.

Aiyuk (6'0, 200 lbs.), Samuel (6'0, 215 lbs.), Jennings (6'3, 212 lbs), and Conley (6'3, 205 lbs.) are their top four receivers. All four are at least 6'0 and 200 lbs. Even Gray is that size. The smallest receiver of the bunch is Bell, who is 6'0, 190 lbs.

The 49ers demand that their receivers block in the run game. Jennings is, perhaps, the best in the league at blocking. Aiyuk is one of the best, as well. Bell is not good at it, and it's likely one reason he hasn't played much. The same could be said for Gray, although injuries cost him the 2023 season.

Robertson did mention an exception to this, leaving the window open for a smaller receiver to be drafted. "They're probably looking at it, too, as maybe potentially finding a return guy as well," he added. "And there are some guys. That's where you might find a smaller guy. There's some guys in here that can really make some plays."

This time next year, the 49ers could be without a few of the receivers they will have in 2024. It will be difficult for the team to have Aiyuk and Samuel both making a lot of money, especially with QB Brock Purdy likely being given a new contract. Jennings and Conley are both unrestricted free agents after this coming season. And if the 49ers truly have a type, and it appears they do, we can expect any receiver they draft to be on the bigger side.

You can watch the wide receiver discussion below:

The opinions within this article are those of the writer and, while just as important, are not necessarily those of the site as a whole.


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