Why Jerry Rice sees bright future for 49ers rookie Aiyuk


Brandon Aiyuk has only played seven games this season, but he has played well under less-than-ideal circumstances for the snake-bitten 49ers.

The rookie wide receiver has even impressed Jerry Rice, and the 49ers legend sees a bright future for Aiyuk.

"He's going to get much better," Rice told ESPN's Nick Wagoner. "I think, as he gets older, he's going to continue to develop, and I'm expecting big things from him, to be honest with you. Because I think he has everything where he’s got the route running, where he’s got the hands, that awareness on the football field, and he's one of those guys that he knows he's a playmaker and that he could put points on the board at any time.

"You can tell he's really starting to come in into his own. I’m expecting big things from him -- he’s going to continue to grow and get better."

This isn't the first time that Rice has gushed about the 2020 first-round pick. After Aiyuk lit up the New England Patriots in the 49ers' 33-6 Week 7 win at Gillette Stadium, the legendary wide receiver heaped praise on the young wideout.

"I think it's all phases," Rice told 95.7 The Game's "The Morning Roast." "He can run by you, he can run good routes, he can out jump you. When you got a player like that, you just have to continue giving him opportunities and Kyle Shanahan is doing that."

When the 49ers drafted Aiyuk with the No. 24 overall pick in the 2020 NFL Draft, coach Kyle Shanahan undoubtedly had visions of Aiyuk, George Kittle and Deebo Samuel forming a three-headed YAC monster that would be impossible to defend. The YAC Bros, as they've dubbed themselves, have only seen the field at the same time in four games this season as each has missed time to due injury.

But when healthy, Aiyuk, Kittle and Samuel have shown they make up a receiving tandem that is almost impossible to contain.

RELATED: Kyler-Tua duel shows why 49ers must make QB change

The 49ers have to figure out their quarterback situation going forward. Jimmy Garoppolo is a solid NFL starter, but his ceiling has become apparent over the last year-and-a-half. The 49ers can move on from Garoppolo this offseason with very little cap penalty and search for a quarterback in the draft or via trade and free agency.

But no matter who is quarterbacking the 2021 49ers, he will have a game-changing trio that is among the best in the NFL, and all three should only get better as they enter their primes.

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