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The 49ers: ESPN analytics writer Seth Walder argues Pro Bowl roster, Aiyuk snubbed “This is the hardest sell to me”

The NFL announced the 2024 NFL Pro Bowl Games rosters Wednesday, and nine 49ers player made the cut.

While San Francisco produced the highest number of Pro Bowl selections during the 2023 NFL season, there arguably were 49ers who got snubbed.

ESPN analytics writer Seth Walder believes star wideout Brandon Aiyuk is one of those snubs, left off the NFC Pro Bowl roster.

“This is the hardest sell to me,” Walder wrote in a piece published Wednesday night.

“I’m sure he got dinged for ‘only’ 1,317 receiving yards but that is partially driven by the fact that the 49ers are leading so often that they have become run-heavy late in games.

“The advanced metrics also back up Aiyuk, who leads all players in [ESPN’s] receiver tracking metrics’ overall score (97) for the season.”

Walder believes Aiyuk deserves a Pro Bowl nod over Los Angeles Rams rookie Puka Nacua, listing the young receiver as the player Aiyuk should replace.

Through 17 weeks, Aiyuk has 72 receptions for 1,317 yards and seven touchdowns. In comparison, Nacua has 101 receptions for 1,445 yards and five touchdowns.

However, as Walder wrote, Aiyuk likely has less impressive numbers due to the 49ers’ season-long dominance, which allows coach Kyle Shanahan to rest starters before the end of games.

Meanwhile, Nacua plays for a gritty 9-7 Rams team that was missing Cooper Kupp for what will be a total of five games this season, often making Nacua Matthew Stafford’s primary option.

Brandon Aiyuk

This year, Aiyuk became the fifth 49ers receiver to record back-to-back 1,000-plus receiving seasons, as he had 1,015 receiving yards last season.

After San Francisco’s 28-16 win over the Seattle Seahawks in Week 14, Shanahan praised Aiyuk for his progress and perseverance.

“Every year, [Ayuk] gets a lot better on the football field and off the football field, which shows how mature he is on the football field,” Shanahan said of the Arizona State product.

“He is one of our leaders there. I think BA has come a long way. “He’s very excited about the game.”

Aiyuk isn’t the only 49ers player to miss the Pro Bowl.

Deebo Samuel, who had 58 receptions for 871 yards and seven touchdowns, also did not receive the honor. However, both were chosen as alternatives.

Aiyuk and Samuel didn’t get the respect many thought they deserved, but San Francisco performed well on the final NFC Pro Bowl roster.

Nick Bosa, Javon Hargrave, Charvarius Ward and Fred Warner represent San Francisco’s defense, while Christian McCaffrey, Brock Purdy, Kyle Juszczyk, George Kittle and Trent Williams complete the 49ers’ offensive lineup.

While Aiyuk is still looking for his first Pro Bowl berth, the 49ers know what the 25-year-old will bring to the table.

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