Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports


The case for the 49ers’ selection of Brandon Aiyuk

Jason Aponte
Apr 24, 2020 at 10:41 AM


The 49ers went into the 2020 draft with two first-round selections at pick 13 and 31. The team moved back one spot from No. 13 in a trade with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, who selected Tristan Wirfs, the offensive tackle from Iowa.

On the board at the time were Jerry Jeudy and CeeDee Lamb. Both were interchangeable as the highest-ranked receiver in this draft.

San Francisco decided to address the loss of DeForest Buckner with the selection of Javon Kinlaw from South Carolina. While the pick isn't sexy, I'm sure we'll look back on the selection with a glowing assessment.

49ers fans were left wondering which receiver the team would select from this deep receiver class. Could the team wait until 31 to address the position? The answer came later in the evening as the front office traded up in the first round to pick 25. Brandon Aiyuk from Arizona State was the selection.

The loud sound you heard after the pick was announced was the collective groans from fans clamoring for Jeudy, Lamb, or Henry Ruggs. Keep calm, 49ers Faithful. Aiyuk can step in immediately and contribute.

Aiyuk's 5-foot-11 height (6-0, depending on who you ask) and 4.5-second 40-time speed, on the surface, isn't mind-blowing. His play speed and burst is a different story. Here's a play from a game against Washington State:


In a past wide receiver evaluation of Ruggs, I highlighted a slant route that he took for a touchdown. Aiyuk profiles as a Kyle Shanahan receiver. Great release, elusiveness, and breakaway speed. As you can see in the above clip, Aiyuk plays much faster than his 40-time and has a wingspan of 6-foot-9. Shanahan wants to provide Jimmy Garoppolo with high percentage throws, which lead to large chunks after the catch.


About that speed, in the first clip, Aiyuk uses the stutter step to catch the defender flat-footed. Aiyuk flies past him for a walk-in touchdown. The second play is a huge indicator of how the 49ers will utilize him. Shanahan has used the play for Deebo Samuel and, at times, Richie James with great success. The third clip highlights Aiyuk's other strength, which comes in the return game.

Aiyuk finished his senior year at ASU with a line of 65 receptions for 1,192 yards, 18.3 yards after the catch, and eight touchdowns. John Lynch and Shanahan identified Aiyuk as one of the six "foundational" pieces in this draft. It's clear why after taking a closer look. So, keep calm 49ers fans. The wide receiver room just added some punch. Get excited!
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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