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Brandon Aiyuk

Niners wideout may want out

With the Super Bowl over, it's now the time of year where we get lots of stories about players either unhappy with their teams or perhaps their contracts. With Brandon Aiyuk, it's not certain which it is, but it seems to be one of them. Aside from the fact he has a contract for next season, he's in a position of strength.

Aiyuk comes off his best season -- in some respects, one of the best seasons by a wide receiver in the last decade. All year long he made big plays, and all year long he was remarkably efficient. After the Super Bowl loss, one of his friends (at Aiyuk's request? Unclear) posted on social media "This is why we're leaving San Francisco." Aiyuk himself, asked about his future, said he wants to remain a Niner "if it's the right move." The Niners would do well to make him happy, because he wouldn't be easily replaced.

Aiyuk averaged nearly 18 yards per catch last season; that in itself is pretty impressive. He also caught over 70 percent of the passes thrown his way. Among all wide receivers with at least 100 targets in a season in the last decade, only one other player has been as impressive in those two metrics. (That was also a 2023 player, Nico Collins.)

In the last 10 years, there have been 67 wide receivers to see at least 100 targets and average over 15 yards per catch. Only Collins caught a higher percentage of the balls thrown his way than Aiyuk. Other top performers from last season in this regard include a couple of the very best wideouts in the game, Tyreek Hill and Justin Jefferson. Makes Aiyuk seem like a pretty underrated guy.

WRS AVERAGING OVER 15 YARDS PER CATCH, 2014-2023 (100 TARGETS)
YearPlayerTgtRecYdsAvgTDCtch%
2023Nico Collins, Hou.10980129716.2873.4%
2023Brandon Aiyuk, S.F.10575134217.9771.4%
2017Tyreek Hill, K.C.10575118315.8871.4%
2019Chris Godwin, T.B.12186133315.5971.1%
2020Justin Jefferson, Min.12588140015.9770.4%
2023Tyreek Hill, Mia.171119179915.11369.6%
2018Brandin Cooks, LAR11780120415.1668.4%
2021Tyler Lockett, Sea.10773117516.1868.2%
2023Justin Jefferson, Min.10068107415.8568.0%
2016Brandin Cooks, N.O.11778117315.0866.7%
2019Amari Cooper, Dall.11979118915.1866.4%
2020A.J. Brown, Ten.10670107515.41266.0%
2015A.J. Green, Cin.13286129715.11065.2%
2014Jordy Nelson, G.B.15198151915.51364.9%
2014Dez Bryant, Dall.13688132015.01664.7%
2021Justin Jefferson, Min.167108161615.01064.7%
2015John Brown, Ari.10165100315.4764.4%
2016Julio Jones, Atl.12983140917.0664.3%
2020DK Metcalf, Sea.12983130315.71064.3%
2022Terry McLaurin, Was.12077119115.5564.2%
2022Jaylen Waddle, Mia.11775135618.1864.1%
2014Julio Jones, Atl.163104159315.3663.8%
2021Deebo Samuel, S.F.12177140518.31463.6%
2018Tyreek Hill, K.C.13787147917.01463.5%
2018T.Y. Hilton, Ind.12076127016.7663.3%
2021JaMarr Chase, Cin.12881145518.01363.3%
2020Calvin Ridley, Atl.14390137415.3962.9%
2014T.Y. Hilton, Ind.13182134516.4762.6%
2018Mike Evans, T.B.13886152417.7962.3%
2017Antonio Brown, Pitt.163101153315.2962.0%
2015Allen Hurns, Jac.10564103116.11061.0%
2015Odell Beckham, NYG15896145015.11360.8%
2022A.J. Brown, Phil.14588149617.01160.7%
2014DeAndre Hopkins, Hou.12776121015.9659.8%
2017Julio Jones, Atl.14888144416.4359.5%
2014Jeremy Maclin, Phil.14385131815.51059.4%
2023George Pickens, Pitt.10663114018.1559.4%
2014Marques Colston, N.O.1005990215.3559.0%
2014A.J. Green, Cin.11769104115.1659.0%
2021Mike Williams (Clemson), LAC12976114615.1958.9%
2018Kenny Golladay, Det.11970106315.2558.8%
2016T.Y. Hilton, Ind.15591144815.9658.7%
2019Michael Gallup, Dall.11366110716.8658.4%
2023Mike Evans, T.B.13679125515.91358.1%
2019Courtland Sutton, Den.12472111215.4658.1%
2019DK Metcalf, Sea.1005890015.5758.0%
2016Tyrell Williams, S.D.11969105915.4758.0%
2017Brandin Cooks, N.E.11465108216.7757.0%
2017Marvin Jones, Det.10761110118.1957.0%
2019Mike Evans, T.B.11867115717.3856.8%
2023Amari Cooper, Cle.12872125017.4556.3%
2019DeVante Parker, Mia.12872120216.7956.3%
2019Kenny Golladay, Det.11665119018.31156.0%
2016DeSean Jackson, Was.10056100518.0456.0%
2020DJ Moore, Car.11866119318.1455.9%
2014Mike Evans, T.B.12268105115.51255.7%
2022Davante Adams, L.V.180100151615.21455.6%
2014Calvin Johnson, Det.12871107715.2855.5%
2023DK Metcalf, Sea.11966111416.9855.5%
2016Marvin Jones, Det.1035593016.9453.4%
2017Marquise Goodwin, S.F.1055696217.2253.3%
2015Allen Robinson, Jac.15180140017.51453.0%
2017T.Y. Hilton, Ind.1095796617.0452.3%
2015T.Y. Hilton, Ind.13469112416.3551.5%
2014Sammy Watkins, Buff.1286598215.1650.8%
2015Mike Evans, T.B.14874120616.3350.0%
2020Jerry Jeudy, Den.1135285616.5346.0%

San Francisco also has Deebo Samuel, of course, but Samuel has an injury history; he's missed six games the last two seasons since his breakout 2021 campaign; 10 games his first two seasons, as well.

Maybe this is all much ado about nothing and Aiyuk is just looking for a raise. Whatever the case, he looks like an important player for the team to make happy this offseason.

--Andy Richardson

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