Brandon Aiyuk: Just put the ball in his hands

At Arizona State, Brandon Aiyuk led the nation in yards after the catch.
(Photo: Associated Press)

OK, here’s what I think about Brandon Aiyuk: YAC. YAC, YAC, YAC. YAC-YAC-YACKITY-YAC.

Aiyuk has size, but he wasn’t the biggest wide receiver in the 2020 draft. He’s got some speed, but he wasn’t the fastest. He doesn’t run the best routes, certainly doesn’t have the best hands. What Aiyuk does have is an innate ability to break tackles and run with the football. And Kyle Shanahan does love him some yards after the catch.

Much of Shanahan’s offense is designed to get guys open on crossing routes and slants, and not just wide receivers. George Kittle, Deebo Samuel, Emmanuel Sanders, Kendrick Bourne and the occasional running back all feasted on those routes in 2019. The coach is hoping Aiyuk perfects the art. He certainly did at Arizona State, where he led the nation in yards after the catch.

A flyer like Henry Ruggs would have been more of a traditional complement to Sanders and Kittle. Shanahan ignored that. He wants too much of a good thing. And to him, a good thing is a receiver catching a pass about eight yards downfield, one defender in his wake and no one to cut him off.

More on the first round later.

How you feeling, Niners fans?

This article has 39 Comments

  1. I feel great. Plugging holes with guys that are great athletes and with a competitive mean streak.

    Phil, side note. You gotta talk to your IT crew. Major issues posting.

  2. I wanted Mims, but Aiyuk has talent.
    They must be content to select these 2 players, so I will defer to their judgement. Aiyuk is certainly a KS pick, because they moved up to get him, like they did with Pettis.

    1. Looks like Niners want to pick fights in the NFC West, and win ’em.
      Arizona’s new DB/LB hybrid monster is going to play against Deebo, King George, and are new YAC!
      Can’t wait for the games! Hope we have games. Stay Safe, and Go Niners!

  3. I always liked Aiyuk and saw him as a 49er type receiver, But I was thinking at 31 or in the second.
    He gets separation appears to be quicker than fast on film and he’s pretty fast tbh.

  4. YAC is great, YAC is good; so added talent.

    But speed has to be on the field to get balls to YAC guys. Is it too easy to cover Niners? Love Bourne’s progress, depth chart seems reasonable. But what about a burner?

  5. How do I feel… well, I like both of the players and can see how both fit the 49ers. I don’t really feel like either player was a reach or a great value pick at the slots they were drafted.

    Buuuut… I am not really a fan of trading Buckner just to try and find his replacement with the pick they got for him. I understand why they needed to trade Buck, and I understand the need to add a DT to help replace Buck. I also get that effectively this becomes replacing Buck at a fraction of the cost, for hopefully not too big a drop off in the play of the D. But I also think the team could have added a DT in round 2 or 3 and the marginal difference in drop off might not have been that big, given the other guys on the D. Whereas there are other positions on the team which might have actually been improved compared to last year at that pick.

    And with Aiyuk… he just seems a little too much like Deebo to me. At some point having a bunch of guys with the same types of skill sets just seems a bit redundant. And was the drop off from Aiyuk to the next WR truly that great the team had to give up a 4th and 5th to get him?

    So while I like the players and I think both will be just fine additions, I find myself not really liking the 49ers approach to the draft. Feels like they are trying a little too hard to just recreate last season rather than evolving and getting better.

    1. I’m a bit mixed as well.
      The only thing that makes sense to me is that I believe the dropoff from say Jeudy to Aiyuk isn’t as great as the dropoff from Kinlaw to the next best DT. In fact As a pass Rusher I think their wont be much dropoff from Defo to Kinlaw.

      My biggest issue is that I think SF panicked a bit in trading up for Aiyuck and I am a big fan of his. I just think if SF was smart they could have gotten another receiver later on (probably with a different skill set) but they could have also addressed either OL or CB. If Jimmy were to get another half second, I think SF could really click on offense but as it is press man will drive this team nuts because I just dont think the qb will have enough time to take advantage of it.

      1. Yeah, definitely agree the 49ers panicked re Aiyuk. That has been their MO under ShanaLynch – they fall in love with a player and are not willing to risk missing out on them. In this instance I feel like they probably could have waited and still gotten him, and if they missed out on him, probably gotten another WR that was of similar calibre.

        With Kinlaw, yeah, there was a clear drop off from him to the next DT. I have no problem with the player. I just feel they didn’t need to try and replace Buck with another dominant DT – a merely good one would be sufficient on this D. And could have allowed them to make other areas better.

        Like I said, kind of feels like they are trying too hard to recreate last year.

        1. Panic? Nah.
          Lynch and Shanahan got the guy they wanted. CeeDee and Juedy were available, but they didn’t want either of them (even if we did).

          I never believed in gambling that a particular player you like could be there for you later in the draft. That’s just to risky.

          Imagine if Andy Reid would have waited for Mahomes to fall in draft. There were some football analysts who saw Mahomes as a 2nd rd pick. The KC fanbase owes Reid a lifelong of thanks that he pulled the trigger on the trade.
          Point is, if you are enamored with a player that you allow to fall into a gray area where other teams could possibly draft him, you are making a big gamble.
          The 49ers got the player they wanted in Aiyuk, and it showed when the NFL network caught Shanahan and Lynch basking in joy after the pick. Maybe it was just me, but they didn’t look to be in panic.

      2. I do feel like the 49ers did panic we have a # of areas that need help I hope with Pettis it was a sophomore jinks and that he wakes up after last year we also have jalen hurd hopefully he is healthy to go what we need is speed? We do not draft again until the 5th round tomorrow I would be on the phone calling people that might not get drafted that I think would fit

    2. I’m sure you realize they didn’t want to trade Buckner. They were up against the salary cap. In Eddie DeBartolo’s day they would have kept Buckner, and Sanders, and Armstead, and all the good ones. But they had to cut a great player, no choice. The hope is to replace Buckner with someone who will be almost as good at a fraction of the price.

    3. I feel the same way. Good players but they are at best, the same team as last year. Did last year get it done? Nope. NFC will be the same beast this season as it was last season. The team we lost to took Helaire at running back so their offense is even more special. Doubt we win anything this year and if I bet, we will just be a playoff team, not a Superbowl winning team or a Superbowl appearing team

      1. It’s going to be tough enough to even be a playoff team. That’s no given.
        I don’t believe that their roster is as great as many make out. The DL is exceptional. That’s about it. The rest is scheme.

        The 49ers mortgage their future by being recklessly frivolous with their draft picks. They just GIVE them away for minimal return. And they are very poor negotiators. Sanders, a case in point; giving up two valuable picks for a 9 game loaner is just too rich and short sighted. What was the harm in negotiating an extension as part of the trade? Wasted picks essentially.
        Same with Jimmy G. They had to overpay him substantially in order to ensure that he would re-up. They could have made the trade after negotiating a decent contract around $20 million per.
        Now they’re doing the same with Williams. I don’t think he resigns next year.

        I’m not a fan of the team’s FO. The coaching is the best, though.

  6. YAC is the PAC-12 is a given. There isn’t any defense. This was a reach.
    Goodwin. Pettis. Bourne. Taylor. Hurd. Poor decision to move up. Shanahan hasn’t been about to coach up any of these players yet. But we are to believe he will coach up Aiyuk? Unlikely. His plate is too full already.
    Draft grade B-

    Future transaction: Coleman trade for a fourth.

    1. No one will give up a fourth for Coleman. Old RB’s are a dime a dozen and can easily be signed in free agency. Besides he only has value in Shannys system.

    2. No one is going to give up anything for Goodwin eather I certainly hope we do not trade future draft picks we probably will be drafting pretty high next year

  7. Brandon Aiyuk has reminded me a bit of John Taylor throughout the draft process, same size, long arms and huge hands. Run after the catch and great return ability. He seems tough like Taylor also. I wanted Mums but obviously ShannyLynch loved Aiyuk so I’m happy with the pick. He’s a great fit for us.

    1. Funny that’s just what I thought in looking at the highlights. Something else too: No show when he scores a touchdown. I think I’m going to like him a lot.

  8. The Niners must have thought that the Packers, who picked at 30, would have taken Aiyuk, if they had stayed at 31.
    Then the Packers threw a curve ball, and moved up to get Love.
    Sure wish they had stayed patient, and saved those 117 and 176 picks, but the draft is an inexact science, and a gamble.
    I think Aiyuk may also provide help returning punts and kickoffs.

    1. Then the Packers threw a curve ball, and moved up to get Love.

      I wonder how the cheeseheads are taking to this? Not well I imagine.

      No, general manager Brian Gutekunst didn’t tell Rodgers he was going to do it. And no, Love doesn’t know how Rodgers will react.

      “I haven’t connected with Aaron yet, but he’s obviously been through this and he’s a pro,” Gutekunst said. “I think it’s certainly, this is something that is a long-term decision. I think when you go through kind of the way things went tonight, you run the short term and the long term. The way the board fell, this was the best decision for the Packers. I think obviously Aaron’s been around for a long time, and he knows what we’re playing for right now, and that’s what’s most important right now.”

      That’s Rodgers you see under the team bus. Does State Farm offer emergency room coverage?

  9. NFLN with two positive commentaries on Niners draft.
    Casserly loved the Kinlaw moved. He talked about KS liking the pick of Mario over Bush when Casserly was the GM (KS was receivers coach). Casserly is big on this move to keep the DL strong.

    And of all people, Steve Smith was pretty high on the Aiyuk pick.

    In hindsight, I wished JL didn’t throw away the 4th to move up, but even that was just a pick we didn’t have an hour earlier.

  10. “A flyer like Henry Ruggs would have been more of a traditional complement to Sanders and Kittle” You mean Samuel. Sanders is gone.

  11. ” A flyer like Henry Ruggs would have been more of a traditional complement to Sanders and Kittle. Shanahan ignored that”….don’t know that. Raiders took him

  12. I think everyone needs to relax and Trust the process!! We have 2 players they have a good feeling about and is a good fit for our locker room. The only reason why we made it as far as we did is because of the Brotherhood and cemeteries in the locker room. Unfortunately a lot of teams can’t say that. Plus we have 90% of returning players back with no cap lost. Shanahan and Lynch are thinking future not season to season.

  13. How do I feel? Kind of glad I don’t follow college ball that much. That way I don’t have the draft day rage a lot of those who are better at managing the team than those who are fans when the team goes in a different direction from their draft crushes.

    1. Yeah I am kinda neutral about the team…..always a Frisco fan but I was NEVER in love with the JimmyG deal and a host of other bad moves….team is moving in the right direction me thinks but not going to get my hopes up…..all of these posters that had this guy going and that guy….who cares? just follow the team and cheer and stop clogging up all the space here…its always the same culprits on here same homers LOL

  14. Oh no, He fell in love with Pettis too. I wish we stayed put and drafted Mims who is big and fast. It would have been better to use those picks for maybe another WR. I think more bodies = better results. I would not say Shanny and Lynch are draft gurus yet being they have missed just as many as they hit. When Shanny feels really good and overrides Lynch we end up with Pettis and Joe Williams. I hope we can trade Godwin and maybe another for a few more picks….. Probably should have kept Sanders being we paid for him already, and we would not be pressed to get a WR early. I really feel Lynch is the talented and Shanny should stick to coaching.

    1. It seems like Lynch is happy to have the job, courtesy of Shanahan, and takes whatever orders Shanahan gives him. They expend too much capital on the guys Shanahan falls in love with, because they’re not willing to risk losing a guy. That tells me they don’t have enough trust in their scouts. This is the point of scouting… to group guys into tiers so you can get value on draft day and not have to overspend to get a player.

      Like the guys on Better Rivals podcast say, it’s a crapshoot once you get the players in tiers, so let one of the guys in a tier fall to you. 49ers do the opposite because Lynch is in a weak position.

    2. Lynch is the “talented . . . ” what?
      I think that he’s a hopeless talent spotter and I get the feeling that he does very little of it. Terrible negotiator, if he indeed does that.
      He’s basically Kyle’s yes man. A mouthpiece. That’s my impression.

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