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Will Brandon Aiyuk have his first 1,000-yard season in 2022?

26 receivers went over 1,000 yards during the 2021 season

NFC Championship - San Francisco 49ers v Los Angeles Rams Photo by Michael Zagaris/San Francisco 49ers/Getty Images

My first thought was, “the 49ers 2020 draft class has to take a step forward in 2022.” But we know big of a season this is for Javon Kinlaw. Remember, the 49ers were without their second-round pick as that was used to acquire Dee Ford.

Their third and fourth-round picks from that year were traded to Denver in exchange for a half-season rental in 2019 for the services of Emmanuel Sanders.

That leaves Brandon Aiyuk, Colton McKivitz, Charlie Woerner, and Jauan Jennings. Outside of Aiyuk, they'll be pleased with any production the team gets out of the other three.

During a promising rookie year where he spent the majority of the season catching passes from backup quarterbacks, Aiyuk finished with 60 receptions for 748 yards and five touchdowns. It was easy to predict that Aiyuk would surpass the 1,000-yard mark in 2022.

Aiyuk stole the show during training camp. He was the wideout that everyone, myself included, thought would break out and have a Pro Bowl/borderline All-Pro year. By now, you know the story. Aiyuk needed a change in his mindset and found out the hard way the value of blocking in a Kyle Shanahan offense.

It wasn’t until the middle of the season — during Trey Lance’s first start — that we saw those rookie flashes from Aiyuk. After a six-catch, 89-yard game against the Cardinals during Week 8, Aiyuk looked as though he’d take the next step.

During two out of the next three games, Aiyuk went over 85 receiving yards. Unfortunately, a month went by before Aiyuk had another impressive game. He had 94 yards against the Texans and 107 receiving yards during the final week against the Rams to close out what most of us would call an underwhelming season.

It’s no coincidence that Aiyuk had two of his best games when Lance was under center. For whatever reason, he never clicked with Jimmy Garoppolo. Aiyuk could be seen, often, throwing a mini temper tantrum after plays where he felt Jimmy missed him.

Beyond the lack of chemistry, the 49ers ran their offense through Deebo Samuel. Why wouldn’t they?

When you can turn around and hand the ball off to a player or throw him a screen knowing there’s a high probability that play turns into an explosive one, it’s a no-brainer.

Aiyuk is a receiver that thrives by winning on isolated routes outside of the numbers. That wasn’t Garoppolo’s game. I brought up the fade against the Rams game the other day and how it was such an anomaly. Most of his production in that Week 18 game seems like it’d be right up Lance’s wheelhouse: fades, posts, and slants.

But thinking Aiyuk will be the No. 1 receiver after the year Deebo just had, and with that, George Kittle fella still on the roster comes off as lip service.

Twenty-six receivers in 2021 went over 1,000 yards. Surprisingly, a few teams had tandems on the list. So the question isn’t whether Aiyuk can turn into a 1,455-yard wideout like Ja’Marr Chase. It’s can he get to 1,091 like Chase’s teammate, Tee Higgins.

Kittle missed three games and wound up with 910 yards. So, the 49ers flirted with three receivers going over the 1,000 yard-mark last year. If we assume Samuel will regress to being a mortal, where does that leave Aiyuk?


How many receiving yards will Aiyuk have in 2022?

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