Who do you believe replaces George Kittle’s production? As you’ll see below, some believe it’ll be Brandon Aiyuk.
My take on some other top candidates for spot No. 8, listed in order:
• Defensive end Nick Bosa. Pro: The reigning defensive rookie of the year has been the team’s most consistently good defender over the last 20 games. Con: He’s only a second-year player and isn’t particularly vocal in the locker room.
• Running back Raheem Mostert. Pro: He’s been the team’s most reliable offensive weapon since the second half of 2019 and is emerging as one of the NFL’s top tailbacks. He’s also universally liked by teammates. Cons: The 49ers already have four offensive captains.
• Linebacker Kwon Alexander. Pro: He’s a veteran who exudes energy and who is so beloved the team awarded him a game ball following a 2019 contest from which he was ejected. Con: Alexander still is trying to find his groove after tearing a pectoral muscle in October and he didn’t exactly shine in Week 1.
“We were like a family, like a college team,” Gore said in a conversation this week with NBC Sports Bay Area analyst and former 49ers teammate Donte Whitner.
“We all cared for each other. I just wish we would’ve gotten that opportunity. We should’ve at least won one.”
Said Whitner, “I say we should’ve had two.”
“We should’ve had two, but, man, we should’ve won one,” Gore said. “That’s the one thing I regret we didn’t do, because we were so tight as a team. . . . how much respect we had for each other.”
Kendrick Bourne, Trent Taylor, Dante Pettis, Aiyuk and Sanu could each see action at wide receiver. And the 49ers also have better pass-catching options out of the backfield with Juszczyk, Raheem Mostert, Jerick McKinnon and Tevin Coleman.
The 49ers are in a much-better position than a year ago with Kittle being unavailable, though where Kittle’s absence might be felt the most is in the run game. He is the 49ers’ best blocking tight end. Woerner might see more action because of his skill as a blocker.
Rank 25 Jimmy Garoppolo -11 spots
San Francisco 49ers · QB
2020 stats: 1 game | 57.6 pct | 259 pass yds | 7.8 ypa | 2 pass TD | 0 INT | 9 rush yds | 0 rush TD | 0 fumbles lost
Garoppolo outplayed Kyler Murray until the moment he hung George Kittle out to dry just before halftime, effectively yanking San Francisco’s Jenga piece, only to see the offense collapse the rest of the way. Already without playmaking wideouts Deebo Samuel and Brandon Aiyuk, Garoppolo grew jumpy in the pocket, unable to muster up an aerial attack with Kendrick Bourne, Trent Taylor and Dante Pettis leading the receiving corps. According to PFF, San Francisco produced -0.7 expected points added per pass with three or more receivers on the field — easily the lowest figure in the league.
Bold prediction: Niners rookie receiver Brandon Aiyuk will go over 100 yards in his NFL debut. Aiyuk is back from a hamstring injury, and after a poor showing for the Niners’ receivers last week, he will get plenty of chances to show why coach Kyle Shanahan coveted him in the first round of the NFL draft. — Nick Wagoner
“I’ll probably never [reach my expectations] my whole career,” Kinlaw said on Thursday. “That’s just how I am on myself.”
Kinlaw graded his performance against the Cardinals as “below average.” His goal, for now, is to continue improving. The defensive lineman was asked if he has a favorite play from his NFL debut, but he doesn’t really look at games that way.
“It’s not really a play for me,” Kinlaw responded. “For me, it’s about how violent can I play? How aggressive can I be? Can I impose my will on the guy in front of me? And I felt like a couple of opportunities, I did that, and a couple of times, I didn’t. I’ve just got to clean that up and work on being more physical all the time.”