Since the start of the 2020 season, San Francisco has yet to see a fully healthy roster. It took until the fourth week of the season for three of San Francisco's top pass catchers to each be available in the same game. Despite injuries along the offense, the 49ers have already witnessed the trio's potential to pick up yards after the catch.
George Kittle, Brandon Aiyuk and Deebo Samuel make up San Francisco's 'YAC Bros,' a moniker proudly given by Samuel to the group known to create yards of their own.
Samuel made his season debut against the Philadelphia Eagles in Week 4 after recovering from a stress fracture in his foot suffered back in June. The second-year wideout is coming off of a breakout rookie campaign where the receiver was second on the team in targets (81), receptions (57) and yards (802) behind Kittle. He registered the fifth-most yards after the catch for a receiver during his rookie season with 473.
Per Pro Football Focus, only A.J. Brown (8.8) averaged more yards after the catch per reception than Samuel (8.5) in 2019. His 25 broken tackles trailed only Lamar Jackson (42) among all non-running backs.
Kittle amassed the third-most yards after the catch and the most among NFL tight ends in 2019 with 602 and registered the most missed tackles forced of any receiver or tight end in the league (20). The tight end has already amassed 90 yards after the catch while appearing in just six total quarters so far this season.
Given the production of Samuel and Kittle, there's no coincidence the 49ers moved up in the 2020 NFL Draft to select Aiyuk with the 25th-overall pick to complement San Francisco's group of pass catchers. Aiyuk averaged 10.9 yards after the catch per reception in 2019, leading the 2020 receiver class, and broke 14 tackles on 65 catches.
"It's good to say (Aiyuk's) a part of the 'YAC Bros' now," Samuel said. "Me, (Kittle) and Aiyuk – great guys with the ball in our hands. It's just great to have another guy out there that can break tackles and go score."
Through three games, Aiyuk is continuing to develop in his young NFL career. The rookie is averaging 12.11 yards per reception and an impressive 17.25 yards per rushing attempt as a dual-threat receiver.
Kyle Shanahan and John Lynch have assembled an offense made to take advantage of space and benefit after the catch. With Shanahan regarded as one of the brightest offensive minds in the game of football, when healthy, San Francisco's trio of talent are primed to challenge opposing defenses and bolster the 49ers offense by doing what they naturally do best: make plays. With a near-complete healthy offense in Week 5, the 49ers get to do so with their starting quarterback under center.
"I think it's more space for all of us, because now you actually have to cover the whole field with me, Kittle and Brandon able to break tackles," Samuel said. "You don't know who's getting an end around, who's getting a screen. So, it puts stress on defensive coordinators of how they're going to game plan us."