49ers Projected to Add Promising WR in 2024: ‘Speed and Explosiveness’

Brandon Aiyuk

Getty The San Francisco 49ers could look to move on from Brandon Aiyuk in the 2024 NFL draft.

The San Francisco 49ers have business to handle before worrying about next year’s roster, but the team is being linked to a promising receiver. Considering the speculation about 49ers WR Brandon Aiyuk’s future, it may be the perfect way to reload if he departs.

In a recent draft projection from Sports Illustrated’s Luke Easterling, San Francisco is being projected to take Washington standout receiver Jalen McMillan in the 2024 NFL draft. McMillan is projected for the 94th pick in the third round.

McMillan is a speedy, experienced receiver who most recently scored in the Huskies’ National Championship loss. He has made 38 appearances for Washington according to Sports Reference, totaling 2143 yards in the process.

McMillan has 18 total touchdowns to his name as well. While he and the Huskies fell short in the National Championship, he, alongside Rome Odunze and Ja’Lynn Polk, put themselves on the map over the past two seasons.

The potential departure of Aiyuk would sting for 49ers fans, but San Francisco must look forward. If they can’t afford to extend Aiyuk and decide to trade him, McMillan would be a great option.

McMillan Has ‘Great Baseline Speed and Explosiveness’

Pro Football Network’s Ian Cummings recently wrote a detailed breakdown of McMillan ahead of the draft. A reason why he might be available later is not because of his shortcomings, but bad injury luck.

“Unfortunately, injuries marred what could’ve been an even more productive 2023 campaign alongside Rome Odunze and Ja’Lynn Polk, but McMillan still managed to rack up 39 catches for 526 yards and four scores,” Cummings explained.

McMillan only made 11 total appearances in 2023, including the team’s three postseason appearances. But in those three games, he totaled 20 catches for 222 yards and two touchdowns.

Cummings’ breakdown repeatedly mentions his quickness. Described as a “streamlined athlete with great baseline speed and explosiveness,” McMillan is also credited for his “diverse” route running and for being tough through the catch.

If anything, that sounds a lot like Aiyuk. He does not have quite as strong of a resume as Aiyuk did in college. But McMillan had to share production with other NFL draft prospects like Odunze and Polk, something Aiyuk didn’t worry about.

Aiyuk Recently Linked to Jaguars Trade

Speaking of Aiyuk, the 49ers receiver was recently linked to a move to the Jacksonville Jaguars. Bleacher Report’s Alex Kay addressed the 49ers’ need to cash out on Aiyuk.

As Heavy’s Sean Deveney covered, the 49ers clearly don’t want to lose their WR. But they may not have a choice, and Kay explains what Jacksonville may give up for Aiyuk.

“If the Jaguars opt to extend [Calvin] Ridley, the move would cost them a second-round pick as part of his trade conditions,” Kay wrote on January 2. “Jacksonville could instead allocate that type of capital toward the acquisition of Aiyuk, who will likely cost a first-round pick plus additional draft selections.”

Getting that kind of draft capital is huge. The 49ers are tight on cash due to having several top-end players. First-round picks allows them to improve or reload the team cheaply and keep their competitive window open longer.

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