New 49ers WR Ricky Pearsall Fires Back at NFL Draft Critics

San Francisco 49ers WR Ricky Pearsall

Getty San Francisco 49ers WR Ricky Pearsall

The San Francisco 49ers have a new pass-catcher in Ricky Pearsall and he’s now acknowledging the chatter around his entry to the NFL. It’s never easy to make the jump to the NFL, but Pearsall is already hearing negative chatter before taking the field.

Pearsall was drafted as the 31st overall pick after playing his college ball at Florida. Pearsall was the sixth receiver drafted in the first round of the 2024 NFL draft, and one of 7 total receivers drafted on the opening night.

In an interview with Sports Illustrated’s Gilberto Manzano, Pearsall addressed talk about the 49ers “reaching” for him. Pearsall’s goal is to block out the noise and focus up before his rookie year.

“That definitely made me feel good because there were a lot of people questioning the pick, but that’s O.K. That’s some noise I gotta block out because at the end of the day, I couldn’t care less of what anybody thinks of me—and that’s my personality and that’s how I walk around. You either like me or you don’t, but I’m going to be myself no matter what,” Pearsall said on May 23.

Pearsall Speaks on Brandon Aiyuk

Part of Pearsall’s interview also touched on Brandon Aiyuk, who is in the middle of contract negotiations with the 49ers. Aiyuk and Pearsall played together at Arizona State in 2019, but were in very different places in their career.

The two receivers are still in very different spots, with Pearsall potentially coming in as talks about Aiyuk leaving the team persist. But the fact that Aiyuk endorsed Pearsall after he was selected shows that the two are on good times.

“I really don’t pay attention to that stuff, but to see Brandon Aiyuk say something encouraging to me, who’s a teammate of mine, a friend of mine, and he’s having success at a high level, it’s definitely encouraging for me to see that,” Pearsall said.

How long the two play together in San Francisco remains to be seen. But at the very least, there doesn’t appear to be any animosity between the two sides.

Pearsall Breaks Out in 2023

Between his time with Arizona State and Florida, Pearsall never produced at an insane rate. He had solid 2021 and 2022 seasons with the Sun Devils and Gators respectively, but it wasn’t until 2023 that he truly shined.

According to Sports Reference, the 6’1″ receiver totaled 1000+ yards from scrimmage for the first time in his career. He also scored 6 touchdowns for the second straight season, both being personal bests.

What should be most exciting for 49ers fans is his average yards per catch. While at Florida, Pearsall played with several different QBs but still averaged 16.6 yards per reception. It’s one thing to reach high volume numbers, but the average shows the play-to-play effectiveness.

With San Francisco, it will be interesting to see how big of a role Pearsall receives. After all, he’s currently behind his former teammate as well as Deebo Samuel. One could even make the case that Jauan Jennings will have a more prominent role in 2024.

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