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Does 49ers QB Brock Purdy need Brandon Aiyuk and Deebo Samuel for success?

May 15, 2024 at 5:55 AM



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Rumors circulated before and during the 2024 NFL Draft about the possibility of the San Francisco 49ers losing one of their top two wide receivers—Brandon Aiyuk or Deebo Samuel. Such a scenario could have significantly impacted the team's success in the upcoming season and posed a potential blow for quarterback Brock Purdy, who has thrived alongside the dynamic duo on the field.

However, none of these speculations came to fruition. Both Aiyuk and Samuel remain on the roster, at least for another season, though their future beyond that remains uncertain.

Aiyuk is seeking a contract extension that would position him among the highest-paid wide receivers in the NFL. At the same time, Samuel already commands a significant salary following a deal rework in 2022. This raises questions about the 49ers' ability to retain both players in the long term.

Will the team part ways with Samuel after the upcoming season? How might this impact Purdy's future success?

"Purdy could play 20 years, win four Super Bowls and go to the Hall of Fame, and because he was the last pick in the draft, people will say he was the product of the system and the group around him," ESPN's Dan Graziano recently wrote. "There's no avoiding this, and that concept is at the root of this question. Does Purdy need the 49ers' wide receiver corps to stick around in order to keep playing as well as he did last season? The Niners certainly struggled in the three games without Samuel, and Aiyuk's emergence as a No. 1 wideout was a big reason for the team's success. But they won't both be around this offense forever."

In this year's draft, San Francisco used the No. 31 overall pick to acquire wide receiver Ricky Pearsall, a player admired by the team's leadership for his physicality.

"There's not one play that you see him turn something down," praised head coach Kyle Shanahan following Pearsall's selection. "He's going to go over the middle and do everything he can to catch that ball and not worry about anything else. When he is on the sidelines, he's not taking the easy way out. He makes guys tackle him. He is not looking for a place to fall. And when he doesn't have the ball, he plays just as hard when the ball's not in his hands."

Pearsall's presence might help offset the impact of a potential departure like Samuel's next offseason, provided the rookie meets the team's expectations. Nevertheless, Graziano acknowledges the 49ers' faith in their young quarterback, recognizing that the team is better with Purdy under center.

"Coach Kyle Shanahan might have to adjust some things if he's without one or both of these guys, but he and the 49ers believe Purdy is the main reason for the QB's success," Graziano adds. "And the current San Francisco braintrust has proven its ability to build and maintain a strong roster. A transition time is coming soon, but Purdy so far appears to be the kind of quarterback -- especially paired with Shanahan -- who can adjust."
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