Fantasy Impact of the 49ers Re-Signing WR Jauan Jennings: Does This Deal Foreshadow a Brandon Aiyuk Trade?

    After signing a two-year deal to stay in San Francisco, will Jauan Jennings be fantasy relevant in this high-powered, but crowded, 49ers' offense in 2024?

    The San Francisco 49ers have one of the best pass-catching duos in the NFL and invested a pair of picks in the 2024 NFL Draft to address the position this offseason. Yet, the organization decided to prioritize keeping WR Jauan Jennings on the roster beyond the 2024 NFL season.

    How does Jennings’ contract extension impact the fantasy football outlook of the Niners’ passing game entering the upcoming NFL season?

    Jauan Jennings Signs 2-Year Deal With San Francisco 49ers

    Jennings entered the 2024 NFL offseason as a restricted free agent but appears to be staying in the Bay Area through the 2025 season. A recent report from ESPN’s Adam Schefter details the veteran wide receiver signing a two-year deal worth up to $15.4 million, which includes $10.5 million guaranteed.

    This deal could be viewed as a one-year contract extension after Jennings did not sign his free-agent tender this offseason. He has caught 78 passes for 963 yards and seven scores through his first 45 games in the NFL.

    Jennings’ 2024 Fantasy Outlook

    The Niners’ high-powered offense produced a pair of top-15 fantasy wideouts in Deebo Samuel (WR15) and Brandon Aiyuk (WR14) while both George Kittle and Christian McCaffrey finished inside the top five at their respective positions in 2023.

    This extraordinary collection of dynamic playmakers helped propel quarterback Brock Purdy into the low-end QB1 conversation despite averaging just 28 passing attempts per game. The exceptional production we’ve seen from both Aiyuk and Samuel makes it difficult to project a large enough role for Jennings to be fantasy-relevant in 2024.

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    Jennings finished a distant fifth on the team in the major statistical categories of targets (33), receptions (19), and receiving yards (265) while scoring just one touchdown.

    This production helped him finish the year as the WR110 in full-PPR formats. His best fantasy finish in 2023 came against the Philadelphia Eagles with three receptions for 44 yards and a score, which saw him finish as the WR23 in Week 13.

    This isn’t to suggest Jennings is a bad football player, it’s just simply too crowded right now in San Francisco. When the four players ahead of you in the pass-catching pecking order all saw 80+ targets and caught 60+ passes, there just simply isn’t enough work in a passing offense that thrives on efficiency over volume to project a fantasy-relevant role in 2024.

    However, there have been some trade rumors surrounding both Samuel and Aiyuk this offseason, which could open up a large target share if either of these premier pass catchers is traded off the roster before the start of the upcoming season. These rumors surrounding Aiyuk likely have more validity, given that multiple reports noted his absence from OTAs.

    Yet, even if Aiyuk is traded or Samuel gets hurt at some point this season, the likely next man up would be rookie WR Ricky Pearsall — who the team selected at No. 31 overall in the 2024 NFL Draft.

    Pearsall is a great route runner, provides ideal formation versatility, and has some of the best ball skills in the class. If Aiyuk is traded off the roster, Pearsall’s skill set would be a far better scheme fit to replace Aiyuk’s role in the offense than Jennings.

    Additionally, rookie Jacob Cowing could also have a compelling case for an expanded role if this hypothetical scenario plays out in 2024. He is also a great route runner with explosive top speed, which could help give this offense a vertical element that Jennings doesn’t possess.

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    Jennings’ production in Super Bowl 58 was a great story, but it would take multiple players either getting hurt, traded, or failing to live up to expectations by a considerable margin to provide Jennings with enough opportunities to be fantasy-relevant in 2024. Personally, I don’t see that scenario coming to fruition this season.

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