Every season in the NFL, there are dozens of players who come out of nowhere. In some instances, you could be a rookie. Last year, Justin Jefferson, James Robinson, and Justin Herbert all qualify.
In other cases, it could be players who were on the fringe of breaking out the season before, like 49ers linebacker Fred Warner or Bengals safety Jessie Bates. You have a few choices for the Niners as they have a handful of skill players who you could argue are right on the brink of taking a huge step.
Javon Kinlaw is an easy answer, but I’m going with the 49ers' other first-round pick in 2020, Brandon Aiyuk. As a rookie, Aiyuk managed to be both efficient and explosive. Forty-two of his 60 receptions went for first downs. He scored seven total touchdowns, and it felt like once a game, Aiyuk managed to have an explosive play.
It’s a good sign that Aiyuk had 748 yards receiving with backup quarterbacks and no help around him for the majority of the season. In Year 2, he gets Deebo Samuel and George Kittle alongside him to go with a competent quarterback. Then, hopefully, Aiyuk is the focal point of the offense.
The ‘20 rookie receiving class was an anomaly as seemingly every first-year wideout produced. Unfortunately, sustaining success isn’t as easy, and I believe Aiyuk will have one of the better seasons from that group this year and take a big career step for himself.
Who will be the first defensive player to score a touchdown?
There was one touchdown last year scored by a non-offensive player, and it was Kinlaw. How much of that was chance, and how much of that was due to the 49ers record? The answer to that question is yes. In ‘19, Ahkello Witherspoon, Fred Warner, Richard Sherman, D.J. Reed, and DeForest Buckner found the end zone.
Nick Bosa was tackled inside of the ten-yard line against the Panthers that season, too. So maybe a better question is, will there be more than one defensive player to score a touchdown.
This is a semi-bold prediction, but I’ll go as far as to say the 49ers will get a defensive touchdown during the first month of the season. With Jared Goff and Jalen Hurts and how they handle the ball, I like my odds.
My answer is K’Waun Williams scoops a fumble or catches a tipped pass and has a nice escort into the end zone from a group of his teammates.
Who is most likely to make fans throw things at their televisions in frustration?
The easy answer is one of the QBs, as they’re the ones who have the ball in their hands the most. Mike McGlinchey and Arik Armstead are two players who tend to get a lot of heat on social media, but I’m going with the head ball coach.
Kyle Shanahan, especially on game day, receives an unwarranted amount of hate. Any offensive play that doesn’t work is his fault. He either doesn’t stick with the run long enough or doesn’t call the correct pass.
This usually happens after the offense has had plenty of success, mind you. Fans love to hate the play-caller on Sundays, and that’s not changing this year for the 49ers.
Who are your answers?