49ers Predicted to Add ‘First Step’ WR Amid Brandon Aiyuk Stalemate

NFL draft prospect Javon Baker is being projected to the San Francisco 49ers

Getty NFL draft prospect Javon Baker is being projected to the San Francisco 49ers

The San Francisco 49ers have a lot on their plate with wide receiver Brandon Aiyuk and the NFL draft coming up. But no matter what happens with Aiyuk, San Francisco has been tagged as a team to add a receiver fairly early in the draft.

Although the team has reunited with Trent Taylor (more on that below,) he feels less of a receiver and more of a special teams-focused option. Correspondingly, All 49ers writer Tom Jensen is projecting San Francisco to take Javon Baker in the third round.

“Baker fills a key need with a contested catch rate of 56.3%, top five in the draft class,” Jensen wrote on April 17. “He competes for the ball, shows good strength at the catch point, and is effective in the red zone. His hands are iffy though, with a 10% drop rate.”

A receiver that can make catches in traffic is critical, especially for a No. 3 or No. 4 option. Jauan Jennings has somewhat filled that role, but the 49ers have found success by constantly reloading.

Baker or another option could develop at the bottom of the depth chart, and then be ready to contribute in a more prominent role in 2025, whether or not that means Aiyuk leaving or multiple other receivers departing.

What to Know About Javon Baker

After starting his college career at Alabama, Baker’s transfer to UCF in 2022 was the change of pace he needed. Baker struggled to get on the field for the Crimson Tide, but got his opportunity as a Golden Knight.

According to Sports Reference, Baker totaled 796 receiving yards and 5 touchdowns on 56 catches in 2022. He then followed up with 1139 receiving yards and 7 TDs on 52 catches in 2023.

The improvement is encouraging for scouts, but Baker’s most impressive stat is his yards per catch. Baker averaged 21.9 yards per reception in 2023.

NFL.com’s Lance Zierlein recently broke down his skillset, and why he was able to have a season like that.

“Baker looks the part, and his tape will keep growing on you the longer it runs,” Zierlein wrote. “His play was very natural and instinctive in 2023; he made quality plays on the ball in game after game. He uses speed changes and route leverage to create separation, and he’s at his best working the second and third levels from either inside or outside.”

49ers Bring Back Trent Taylor

As mentioned above, San Francisco is reuniting with Taylor, at least for this offseason. The former 5th round pick in the 2017 NFL draft has not played for the 49ers since 2020. He has spent the past three years with the Cincinnati Bengals and Chicago Bears.

His best receiving seasons have come in San Francisco. That being said, they came at a time (2o17 and 2018) when the 49ers did not have the likes of Deebo Samuel or Aiyuk. What Taylor may still bring, though, is his return ability.

Even though he has gotten few offensive chances over the past few years, his returns have still been solid. He has averaged 9.2 yards per punt return over the past three seasons after averaging 9.6 yards per return with San Francisco.

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