Samuel is expected to be out 12 to 16 weeks with a Jones fracture, although the second-year wide receiver is confident he can be back in 10.
The 49ers drafted Aiyuk with the No. 25 overall pick in the 2020 NFL Draft, believing his ability to create big plays after the catch and take the top off defenses will fit perfectly in Kyle Shanahan's offense. Some might be concerned that Aiyuk only had one solid season of college production and he might start slow as he transitions to the NFL. But the Arizona State product showed off his immense potential with a ridiculous one-handed catch during a recent workout.
— Fourth and Nine (@fourth_nine) July 16, 2020
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Yes, rookie receivers often take time to transition to the NFL. There is a possibility that Aiyuk will have some early hiccups, but it's clear what the 49ers see in him.
After losing Emmanuel Sanders in free agency, the 49ers were in need of a receiver to come in and pair with Samuel, Kendrick Bourne and tight end George Kittle. Aiyuk has all the tools the 49ers value in wide receivers, from blistering game speed to insane YAC ability. His 80-inch wingspan also makes it easier for him to make impressive grabs on throws that he has to go up and get.
Not everything will be placed on Aiyuk's shoulders if Samuel can't return for Week 1. Kittle remains the best tight end in football. Jalen Hurd and Trent Taylor both are back from injuries, and Dante Pettis still has time to reach his NFL potential. The 49ers should be able to spread Samuel's responsibilities around so that the early success of the offense isn't predicated on Aiyuk making a smooth transition to the NFL after a virtual-meetings only offseason due to the coronavirus pandemic.
It's fair to wonder how good Aiyuk can be out of the gate. Some see him as the key to the 49ers' success in 2020.
But Aiyuk's talent is clear, and Jimmy Garoppolo is going to love having him in the pattern.
Brandon Aiyuk showcases lofty potential with insane one-handed catch originally appeared on NBC Sports Bay Area