49ers rookie Brandon Aiyuk could be pushed to WR1 duties

Photo by Kent Horner/Getty Images
Photo by Kent Horner/Getty Images /
Brandon Aiyuk 2020 NFL Draft
Photo by Kent Horner/Getty Images /

49ers rookie receiver Brandon Aiyuk may be pushed to WR1 duties early in 2020.

The San Francisco 49ers didn’t have a massive 2020 NFL Draft class, but they had two first-round picks and both will be expected to play massive roles in the 2020 season.

Javon Kinlaw was the team’s top selection after they traded away DeForest Buckner to the Indianapolis Colts. He figures to slide in as one of the team’s top defensive linemen in 2020 while wide receiver Brandon Aiyuk, the 49ers’ second of two first-round picks, could be pushed very early into WR1 duties.

Not necessarily by design.

The 49ers were moving forward in the 2020 offseason with second-year player Deebo Samuel as the team’s presumptive WR1, but he suffered a broken foot this offseason and while he’s expected to be ready for the regular season, foot injuries are not always predictable.

With the injury to Samuel, what the 49ers have of a training camp or offseason activities could involve Aiyuk working as the team’s WR1.

This offense is a perfect fit for Aiyuk’s skill set and he will be set up to have early success, but the 49ers sort of backed themselves into a bit of a corner by trading away Marquise Goodwin and letting Emmanuel Sanders go in free agency.

This is a young receiver group with the most talented guys at the top also being some of the least experienced.

Aiyuk’s abilities after the catch could lead to his being featured in the short passing game and even some in the running game like Samuel was a season ago. The 49ers found so many creative ways to get the ball in Samuel’s hands and get him in space, they might have to plan for Aiyuk doing some of those things in 2020 with Samuel’s injury.

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Thankfully, the 49ers still have George Kittle and their stellar running game to take the pressure off of Aiyuk in his rookie season, but he will have to prove he can fend off the extra attention until Samuel is 100 percent.