Tag Archives: Brandon Aiyuk

49ers Preseason Preview: Five Things To Watch vs. the Packers

Photo Credit: Darren Yamashita/USA TODAY Sports

The San Francisco 49ers kick off their preseason Friday against the Green Bay Packers. After 12 days of training camp, the players are still fighting for roster spots, more play time, and want to show the league what they’re made of. With that in mind, here are five players/position groups to keep an eye on Friday night.

1. Trey Lance

All eyes will be on Lance for this first preseason game. Kyle Shanahan said that some starters will play Friday, including Lance. The former third overall pick had an up-and-down camp, showing flashes of greatness throughout. This will be the first test in the Trey Lance era. Was benching Lance the correct move last season? How much has Lance improved since his week 17 start in 2021? While we might not see much of Lance during the game, fans should be focused on the few series he does play.

2. Jeff Wilson, JaMycal Hasty, and Jordan Mason

Running backs Trey Sermon, Elijah Mitchell, and Ty Davis-Price are locks to make the roster this season. These three running backs – Jeff Wilson, JaMycal Hasty, and Jordan Mason – still has something to prove. Historically, the 49ers have kept four running backs come cut day, meaning that at least one of these players won’t be a 49er come August 30.

I expect all three of these players to get snaps on Friday. Hasty and Wilson have much-needed veteran presence in this young core. While those two appear to be the favorites to make the roster, don’t count out Jordan Mason. The undrafted free agent out of Georgia Tech has shined throughout training camp, and has made a strong case to be RB4. This will be Mason’s biggest test yet, and everyone can see what he’s truly made of tonight.

3. Kick Returners

Special teams was a massive problem last season for the 49ers. New special teams coordinator Brian Schneider has a lot of work to do to improve from the 49ers’ abysmal 2021 squad.

Kick returner was a key issue last season, and the 49ers signed multiple guys this offseason to fight for that role. Players who have returned kicks in training camp include: Ray-Ray McCloud, Brandon Aiyuk, Danny Gray, Malik Turner, Marcus Johnson, and KeeSean Johnson. Both Johnsons returned kicks on Wednesday. Those players may not all get reps, but the ones who do will have to make the most of it. Ray-Ray McCloud is listed at the top of the depth chart, but I’d expect others to compete for his spot.

4. The Center Battle

Daniel Brunskill and Jake Brendel have been fighting all camp long to be the starting center. Throughout camp, Brunskill would be on the first team one day, then Brendel would take those reps the next day (FWIW, Brunskill took the first team reps on Wednesday). Kyle Shanahan stated that he wants to see how both play in game, so expect to see both players get plenty of snaps.

Center is the most crucial position on the offensive line in Shanahan’s offense. With Pro Bowler Alex Mack recently retiring, starting center will be Shanahan’s biggest decision to make come week 1.

5. Nickelback

This viewing guide is a bit offense-heavy, so let’s throw some defense in! The 49ers lost K’Waun Williams this past offseason. They utilized Williams a lot, and they’ll needs to fill his role at nickelback. Veteran Darqueze Dennard took reps towards the beginning of camp, but Samuel Womack got the nod for that role on Wednesday and took advantage of it.

Additionally, towards the beginning of camp, Dontae Johnson took snaps at nickelback. I’d expect all three players to play in the 49ers’ first preseason game. The battle at the position should continue throughout the preseason, but Friday’s game should give people a good sense of how the battle is going thus far.

Miami Dolphins Reap the Benefits of the Deebo Samuel Trade Request

San Francisco 49ers wide receiver Deebo Samuel has requested a trade. This comes after an apparent stall on contract negotiations, as Samuel is in the final year of his deal. Furthermore, it’s been reported that he may have become unhappy with his expanded role last season and the beating he took in it.

Samuel was one of the most productive receivers in the NFL last season, in large part due to his versatility. The self proclaimed “wide back” played a large portion of his snaps out of the backfield. This allowed him to make big plays in both phases, while also opening opportunities for others.

With this larger workload came a desire for a new contract, and while San Francisco reportedly made an offer, Samuel decided that it would be better to request a trade.

Deebo Samuel seems unhappy with his role.

Could the Miami Dolphins trade for Deebo Samuel

A majority of the league is expected to have interest, and many were wondering if the Dolphins and head coach Mike McDaniel have interest. McDaniel was Samuel’s offensive coordinator last year, and a reunion may be possible.

However, the Miami Dolphins just traded significant capital for Tyreek Hill. They are also dedicating a significant portion of their cap to receivers. Thus, it’s unlikely Samuel ends up in Miami.

Although, the impact of a potential trade, no matter the destination, benefits the Dolphins greatly.

Miami’s Draft Capital

Miami holds the 49ers draft pick next season, which looks to be in limbo. San Francisco has yet to name a starting quarterback between Jimmy Garoppolo and Trey Lance. Lance showed high potential in limited starts, but was unable to win the job last year. Garoppolo, on the other hand, helped the offense operate at a high level, but couldn’t step up in big moments.

Samuel was a large part of both of the quarterback’s success, and a potential trade would hinder them greatly. The ability to get the ball to someone as prolific as Samuel was a large part of the Shanahan system, and it may be gone soon.

The 49ers’ Flaws

On top of that, the 49ers receiving corps lacks the depth of an elite unit. Brandon Aiyuk has been inconsistent over his first two seasons, and their number two receiver has 282 career yards. While they do have George Kittle, this system lacks the perimeter play-makers to attack all areas of the field. This would only get worse if they decide to move on from the unhappy Samuel.

Their injuries are just as big of an issue. Over the last several years, San Francisco has been one of the most injury-prone teams in the NFL. Key starters such as Nick Bosa, Trent Williams, and Javon Kinlaw all have major injury history. If this were to persist, it may be too much to overcome.

Win-Now Mode

Miami, on the other hand, is trending in the opposite direction. Their rebuild seems to be ahead of schedule, and they look to win big this season. However, they still have two first round picks next year, and one of those was acquired in Miami’s trade back with San Francisco. If these potential struggles were to manifest themselves, the value of that pick will continue to rise. Miami would have a variety of options.

5 teams have two firsts in 2023.

The potential to move up for a key play-maker, add another key veteran via trade, or find Tua Tagovailoa’s replacement if he doesn’t work out are all viable scenarios for a 49ers pick that could feasibly be in the top half if Deebo is dealt.

The Bottom Line on Deebo Samuel and the Miami Dolphins

While it would be exciting to see the explosive wide receiver in aqua and orange, it’s unlikely Deebo Samuel joins the Miami Dolphins. With their current receiver room, dealing their draft capital simply doesn’t make sense.

However, it’s clear that Miami will still benefit if Samuel is traded elsewhere. The 2023 first round pick was quite the steal to only move down three picks and select Jaylen Waddle, and it’s value is only growing. If Samuel is the next domino to fall in this all-time offseason, it could become a hot commodity.

It’s unknown what Miami’s needs will be next year, but it will be exciting to see how they fill them with that much more valuable San Francisco pick.

New England Patriots Trade Deadline Targets

Do the New England Patriots have ant trade deadline targets? The upcoming trade deadline provides an opportunity for teams, such as the New England Patriots, to better themselves for the second half of the season. Some teams will look for the missing piece for a run to the playoffs, others for that final player to make them legitimate Super Bowl contenders, while others will look to sell and gain as much draft capital for an inevitable off-season rebuild.

The Patriots are somewhere in the middle of all this. They won’t be sellers looking to rebuild in the off-season and they are probably a few pieces away from being a force in the playoffs. They also have about $2.9 million in cap space according to Miguel Benzan; the unofficial Patriots cap space guru. The limited cap space means they will have to acquire someone on the cheap or add a player in their potential dealings to leave them with enough space to maneuver the rest of the season.

Here a few potential trade deadline targets for the Patriots:

MINNEAPOLIS, MN – OCTOBER 03: Greedy Williams #26 of the Cleveland Browns lines up for a play in the third quarter of the game against the Minnesota Vikings at U.S. Bank Stadium on October 3, 2021 in Minneapolis, Minnesota. (Photo by Stephen Maturen/Getty Images)

Browns CB Greedy Williams

The Patriots secondary is in need of some help after Jonathan Jones was placed on IR earlier this week. Williams is a talented corner who has found himself buried on the Cleveland depth chart. A second round pick in 2019, Williams would come with a cheap contract but not in trade compensation. Making a move to solidify the position for the future may be worth the investment with J.C. Jackson an unrestricted free agent after this season.

INDIANAPOLIS, IN – OCTOBER 17: Brandin Cooks #13 of the Houston Texans runs the ball during the game against the Indianapolis Colts at Lucas Oil Stadium on October 17, 2021 in Indianapolis, Indiana. (Photo by Michael Hickey/Getty Images)

Texans WR Brandin Cooks

Cooks is well traveled for being only 28 years old. If he were moved again this season it would be his fifth move in 8 years in the league. Cooks is on a relatively cheap contract this year (just over $1 million) but has a significant increase in cap hits the years following ($15.5 million cap hit in 2022, $5 million in 2023). Despite the low salary this year, Cooks has been a huge part of the Houston offense. The Patriots spent big at WR in free agency but getting a player familiar with the system and as talented as Cooks would be a definite upgrade over current WR4 N’Keal Harry. Cooks seemed upset that the Texans moved RB Mark Ingram earlier this week. Perhaps Nick Caserio and Bill Belichick can come to terms on a trade that makes all parties happy.

FOXBOROUGH, MASSACHUSETTS – NOVEMBER 29: Andy Isabella #17 of the Arizona Cardinals runs with the ball after catching a pass against the New England Patriots during the first quarter of the game at Gillette Stadium on November 29, 2020 in Foxborough, Massachusetts. (Photo by Adam Glanzman/Getty Images)

Cardinals WR Andy Isabella

Isabella played his college ball at nearby UMass before being drafted by the Cardinals in 2019 in the second round. He just hasn’t been able to get much going for him in the desert and may benefit from a change of scenery. This off-season rumors of a player for player trade between the Pats and Cardinals surfaced in terms of underwhelming young WR’s: Isabella for Harry. Isabella is a speed threat that may compliment the other pieces of the New England passing game as a role player. Even better? He’s still on a manageable rookie contract and wouldn’t cost much in a trade.

CLEVELAND, OHIO – SEPTEMBER 19: Running back Phillip Lindsay #30 of the Houston Texans celebrates his first half touchdown catch with running back Rex Burkhead #28 in the game against the Cleveland Browns at FirstEnergy Stadium on September 19, 2021 in Cleveland, Ohio. (Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images)

Texans RB Rex Burkhead

The Texans are in sell mode and the New England Patriots are looking for depth at running back. Patriots beat reporter Mike Reiss has mentioned this one a few times, and when Reiss says something, it’s best for the rest of us to listen. The Patriots have seemed uncomfortable with their passing back situation since losing James White to injury in week 3. The return of Burkhead would help immensely to alleviating those fears while adding a steady veteran who knows the offense. Burkhead is on a one-year $1.5 million contract and wouldn’t cost much in a trade. Maybe a swap of late round picks does it.

GLENDALE, ARIZONA – OCTOBER 10: Brandon Aiyuk #11 of the San Francisco 49ers breaks a tackle from Jalen Thompson #34 of the Arizona Cardinals during the fourth quarter at State Farm Stadium on October 10, 2021 in Glendale, Arizona. (Photo by Norm Hall/Getty Images)

49ers WR Brandon Aiyuk

The player with the highest upside, Aiyuk has fallen out of favor in San Francisco for some undisclosed reason. Aiyuk, a first round pick last year, had an extremely productive rookie season. He finished 2020 with 838 receiving yards, 85 rushing yards, 107 return yards, and eight total touchdowns. The cost for acquiring him in a trade might be high as his ceiling and draft status may make the 49ers hesitant to trade him. The Patriots wouldn’t have to sweat his contract as he’s still on his rookie deal. Acquiring Aiyuk might be expensive but with Nelson Agholor on a two year deal, cementing the receiver room for the future will be worth it.

FOXBOROUGH, MASSACHUSETTS – SEPTEMBER 27: Cam Newton #1 of the New England Patriots avoids a tackle by Clelin Ferrell #96 of the Las Vegas Raiders during the first half at Gillette Stadium on September 27, 2020 in Foxborough, Massachusetts. (Photo by Adam Glanzman/Getty Images)

Raiders DE Clelin Ferrell

Ferrell was a top 10 pick in 2019 but has seen less and less playing time in recent years. Belichick loves acquiring high draft picks in the hopes of reclaiming their top tier talent. Ferrell has been squarely out of favor in Las Vegas even after John Gruden’s dismissal. The Patriots could use a bit more depth, and acquiring a previous top 10 talent could be their next heist. Ferrell was viewed as a reach during the draft but never doubt Belichick. He’s found the key to player’s talents in the past before.

With all the players the Patriots could potentially be interested in, there might be some player movement out of New England as well. Here are some players that could be moved before the deadline:

OLB/DE Chase Winovich

A fan favorite for his fun-loving personality and non-stop motor, Winovich has fallen out of favor with the Patriots coaching staff in recent years. Belichick favors players that do their assignment over free lancing (Jamie Collins anyone?) and that’s the rumor surrounding Winovich. A potential hurdle to any deal is Winovich’s being placed on IR.

CB Joejuan Williams

Drafted in the second round of the 2019 draft, Williams was supposed to be a tight end specialist. Buried on a talented depth chart his rookie year, Williams has never been able to gain momentum in his development. He was a healthy scratch two weeks ago against the Cowboys before a quietly steady performance against the Jets. Williams has struggled in the Patriots scheme and often gets grabby with receivers. Williams may not fetch much on his own but could be used in a package for another player.  

WR N’Keal Harry

Harry has been a disappointment since being Belichick’s first ever first round wide receiver in 2019. He showed flashes his rookie year but has been constantly derailed by injuries. He never found chemistry with Cam Newton last year and has struggled to gain consistent playing time this year. While the talent is undeniable, a fresh start may be in Harry’s best interest. Harry is already on the record for having requested a trade this off-season. Rumor is he can be had for the right price (which is supposedly very low).

The New England Patriots currently have limited cap space and a fairly solid roster. Basically, don’t expect them to be involved in any blockbusters before the deadline. These players were noted as potential targets, and interior o-line depth should also be high on the Patriots’ list. A buy-low move will probably happen either in or out after this weekend.