Brandon Aiyuk famously referred to himself as the fourth option in a run-first offense this offseason. He's not the fourth option anymore.
This season, Aiyuk firmly has established himself as the 49ers' go-to guy in the passing game and their No. 1 wide receiver ahead of Deebo Samuel, who used to be their No. 1 wide receiver. Now, he's the fourth option in a run-first offense.
Aiyuk is having an elite season. He has gained more than 100 yards four times, he's averaging a whopping 92.3 receiving yards per game and is on pace for nearly 1,500 receiving yards this season. As opposed to Samuel, who has gained more than 100 receiving yards just once and is averaging a mere 49.4 receiving yards per game despite earning nearly $24 million per season. Which means Aiyuk must be worth more than that. And he'll be eligible for a contract extension starting this offseason. He's becoming extremely expensive.
Aiyuk is one of the best route runners in the NFL, as opposed to Samuel, who can't seem to separate from NFL cornerbacks anymore. He mostly catches screen passes and runs end arounds. Not Aiyuk. He runs the full route tree and makes even the best NFL cornerbacks look silly. Plus he's tough, not afraid to go over the middle. And he's a great blocker. And he's a deep threat. He probably would catch even more deep passes if he played on a team that threw deep more often.
But he's still dangerous on the 49ers. And until teams figure out a way to stop him, the 49ers offense will continue to roll.