Since 2019, the San Francisco 49ers have been blessed with a talented roster of offensive skill players, including remarkable running backs, tight ends, and receivers. At first, George Kittle stood out as the most notable player, but as time went on, others emerged to leave their mark.
One standout player who established himself as a primetime performer in the 49ers' offense, particularly after 2021, is Deebo Samuel. Even Kyle Juzczyk, often overlooked, is recognized as an impressive skill player. However, the acquisition of Christian McCaffrey last season quickly made him the team's best skill position player. Samuel and Kittle were once considered the best after McCaffrey, but this season things have changed.
Now, it is clear that Brandon Aiyuk is the second-best skill position player on the 49ers, cementing his place with another outstanding performance against the Cardinals. Aiyuk consistently brings his A-game week after week and is rarely hampered by injuries, setting him apart from Samuel and Kittle. Samuel, who had a stellar game in Week 3 against the Giants, is already nursing an injury, which likely limited his impact against the Cardinals.
Aiyuk is on his way to being regarded as one of the top receivers in the league. His current stats speak for themselves: 17 catches for 320 yards (averaging 18.8 yards per catch) and two touchdowns. Many would say he is already a top-10 player in the NFL. The chemistry between Aiyuk and Brock Purdy is nothing short of phenomenal. No other receiver in the 49ers' offense comes close to their connection. It wasn't always this way last season when Purdy took over as the starting quarterback. The two struggled to find their rhythm, but this season it's evident that they are on the same page, and Aiyuk is thriving as a result.
When it comes to route running and catching toss-up passes, Aiyuk surpasses both Kittle and Samuel by a wide margin. The only area where the latter two excel is in yards after the catch, which may contribute to their frequent injury concerns. On the other hand, Aiyuk boasts a more sustainable playstyle and is reaping the rewards. It's highly likely that even Kyle Shanahan, the 49ers' head coach, considers Aiyuk the second-best skill position player. He has heavily relied on Aiyuk in two games already this season, indicating his immense trust in the young receiver.
When the 49ers find themselves in a tight spot and in need of a crucial catch, Aiyuk is the go-to guy more often than not. In this contract year, he is proving why he deserves a lucrative extension in the offseason. Last year was impressive for him, marking his best performance to date. However, in just three games played so far, Aiyuk is already surpassing those previous heights. It is time to recognize and appreciate Aiyuk as the second-best skill position player on the San Francisco 49ers.