The San Francisco 49ers got to Super Bowl LVIII thanks in large part to an offensive skill position group that is likely the most talented in the entire NFL.
Christian McCaffrey was the 2023 Offensive Player of the Year, Deebo Samuel can take any short pass and turn it into a long touchdown by breaking several tackles, and George Kittle is arguably the best two-way tight end in the league. Yet it could be Brandon Aiyuk that helps deliver the Lombardi Trophy to the Bay Area.
Brandon Aiyuk could be Super Bowl LVIII X-Factor
Aiyuk is the 49ers’ best receiver when it comes to beating man coverage, which could see him have a field day against the Kansas City Chiefs, who struggle specifically when playing Cover-1.
Niners quarterback Brock Purdy loves throwing to Aiyuk when they get those looks, and Aiyuk comes through, averaging over 20 yards per reception when facing Cover-1.
The Chiefs, under defensive coordinator Steve Spagnuolo, play a mix of man and zone coverages. They could opt to play more zone to counter Aiyuk, but that would go against their philosophy of blitzing and playing press coverage, which has reaped rewards for them this season. Playing zone would also feed into another strength of the 49ers – letting McCaffrey and Samuel make plays after the catch.
With top Chiefs cornerback L’Jarius Sneed likely to pay more attention to Samuel, we could see Aiyuk have a big performance.