Image Credit: Andrew Giesemann
In his first full season as a starting quarterback, Jimmy Garoppolo completed 69.1 percent of his passes, threw for almost 4,000 yards, 27 touchdowns, and 13 interceptions. Before the Emmanuel Sanders trade, Garoppolo was averaging 219 yards and 1.2 touchdowns per game. After the Sanders trade, that average jumped to 266 and 2.0, respectively.
The 49ers lost Emmanuel Sanders to free agency but drafted Brandon Aiyuk in the first round of the 2020 draft. Aiyuk was always their guy and they even considered him with their first pick at No. 14. If there is one thing Kyle Shanahan knows, it is seeing the talent and drafting wide receivers. And I know the voice of public opinion would like to point out Dante Pettis and the fact the 49ers traded up to get him. But the point is he is a talented wide receiver and can break the ankles of any defensive back in the NFL, but he appears he still has a lot of growing up to do.
I have no doubt Aiyuk will be able to fill in the role left behind by Sanders and the 49ers should also see the return of Jalen Hurd and third-down king Trent Taylor, meaning we could see Garoppolo throw closer to that 266 yards and 2.0 touchdown average per game. This would give him a season average of over 4,200 and 32 touchdowns.
I know the voice of public opinion would chime in and say that both the defense and Jerick McKinnon are coming back. And yes, I agree with that statement, and the 49ers proved that Garoppolo doesn’t have to throw the ball 100 yards to win the game (looking at you, Green Bay). I am hoping the Super Bowl taught them they have to leave their foot on the pedal at all times.
If Jimmy Garoppolo is going to throw for over 4,200 yards, then there has to be someone on the other end catching the ball. Of course, George Kittle is likely to make it three years in a row catching over 1,000 yards. He still managed to do it last season despite missing a couple of games.
We are going on seven years without a wide receiver for the 49ers amassing 1,000 yards in a single season. I believe that stops this season. Last season Deebo Samuel had over 800 yards as a rookie. Over the past 20 years only 36 rookies have managed to gain at least 800 yards in their rookie seasons. Yes, I know that is at least one, almost two, per year, but over that same span 1,009 wide receivers in their rookie season did not have at least 800 yards, so it’s still impressive.
So, I think Samuel will finally break that streak for the 49ers. Aiyuk will probably come next in the six- to seven-hundred range. Then Taylor, and Kendrick Bourne will get their fair share but not come close to Samuel or Kittle.
2020 should be a great year for 49ers football and hopefully redemption and revenge for 2019.
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