During their Unbuttoned podcast, Paul Burmeister and Chris Simms were discussing first-round receivers, and when Brandon Aiyuk came up, Burmeister said, I went back with all of the guys that I talked to, with all of the analysts, executives, and GMs, none of them had him [Aiyuk] in their top three or four, but every single one of them, before I moved them on to another position, said, “wait, wait, wait, we have to talk about the Arizona State guy.” Burmeister said each person wanted to tell him how much they liked Aiyuk.
Simms is Kyle Shanahan’s good friend, and he knows what Kyle thinks about Aiyuk. Here is Simms on what Aiyuk brings to the 49ers offense:
Everything. You could argue this guy is every bit as good of a route runner as Jerry Jeudy. He’s one of the best route runners in it. He’s very explosive. With the ball in his hands or without the ball in his hands. His ability to start, stop, reaccelerate, do double moves, do intricate route running, is all so smooth and effortless. Let alone he’s one of those guys that’s special with the ball in his hands. I think Kyle Shanahan is one of the best wide receiver evaluators in the NFL. When Kyle says something about receivers, I listen, and I perk up. He looks at it in-depth and really has great nuance things that he looks for at the position that I don’t think a lot of people have an eye to see. He’s taught me a lot. I knew Kyle was hot on Aiyuk. I left him off my mock draft because I didn’t want to screw him over. He [Kyle] thinks he [Aiyuk] can be Isaac Bruce. I think a lot of teams really liked Aiyuk, and within the last week to five days, Aiyuk cracked into some teams’ top-3 receivers in a lot of ways. I think Shannahan made a real bold move. They lost Emmanuel Sanders. The Dante Pettis experiment they drafted a few years ago hasn’t gone great. They only got Deebo Samuel and Kendrick Bourne right now. I think he knew how desperate they were at that position, so he [Kyle] made a trade to go get him.
There is a lot to unpack from that. You can see which parts are Simms’ opinions and which are Kyle’s. What stands out to me is “they only got Deebo and Kendrick,” which sounds like it’s coming from the horse’s mouth. Many fans are quick to bring up Trent Taylor and Jalen Hurd, but we’ve been given zero reasons to trust them. Which is why the 49ers drafted two receivers—one who I think is insurance for Hurd.
The other takeaway is likening Bruce to a Hall of Fame receiver. Bruce had eight seasons where he had at least 1,000 yards. Niners fans caught the tail end oof Bruce’s career, and he was still productive at age 36. If Aiyuk turns out to be 60% of what Bruce was, the Niners just landed the steal of the draft.