New 49ers’ receiver Brandon Aiyuk met with the media after he was drafted to discuss his possible role, special teams, who he models his game after, and much more.
So you just posted a picture of yourself as a four-year-old wearing 49ers gear. Can you tell us a little bit about that?
“Yeah. So, my mom’s been a huge 49ers fan her whole life, so that kind of bled on me a little bit when I was younger.”
So that selection and this choice now seem a little fortuitous?
“It did. It did. There were a lot of people telling me before today and all week that it was going to happen. So, it’s crazy that it actually did happen.”
So did you have any idea that you would be heading to the 49ers?
“When they traded 13th away, I believed, kind of had a strong feeling, just with my agent telling me the communication that he had going back and forth. So, after that, I kind of had a strong feeling, and then when they traded it up, I kind of, I knew right then and there.”
I was hoping you could talk about your background as a running back and how you apply that to playing wide receiver?
“Yes, sir. So, with my back background, I played running back early on in my career, so I just feel like that contributes to the yards after the catch. After I catch the football, I kind of just change back into that running back that I was early on.”
Can you talk a little bit about, you just talked a little bit about it, but about your mentality as receiver and why you’re so successful yards after the catch?
“Yeah, so for me, I take a lot of pride in my yards after the catch. Early on at Arizona State, I didn’t get a lot of touches, and one of my coaches told me that when you do get the ball, just go score a touchdown. So I kind of just have that mentality that every time I touch the football, I want to go score a touchdown.”
What do you know about this 49ers offense you’re joining? What did you notice last season as they were making their run of the Super Bowl and playing in the Super Bowl?
“I know that this offense is crazy with [TE George] Kittle and [WR] Deebo [Samuel] and [WR] Kendrick Bourne. I just know [head coach] Kyle Shanahan is a great offensive coordinator. He moves people around. Just the way he manufactured touches for Deebo last year and just gets everyone involved. I just know it’s a scary offense, and I’m very excited to get added to that offense.”
You mentioned you had a slow start at ASU. I think after your first nine games, you had something like 11 catches. How frustrated, if at all, were you at that time, and could you have imagined at that time that you were going to be a first-round pick?
“My first year we had [New England Patriots WR] N’Keal Harry, so he was kind of the focal point of the offense. So, I just had a role that I understood in offense. Just contribute where I can, just help where I fit in. So I was pretty much more of a role player that year. It was frustrating at times, but just looking bigger picture and understanding that can still happen because I still had another year to do what I wanted to do.”
Now that you’re going to be working with 49ers wide receivers coach Wes Welker, in what ways do you think you can be better, and in what specific areas do you think you can improve your game?
“I think I can improve my game in all aspects of my game. When I talk to Wes, he’s just always talking about how he’s going to push me, how he’s going to make me better. He’s just going to continuously push me daily, which is something that I love and something that I’m excited for. I think there’s a lot of work to do still in my game in a lot of different areas. I think when I’m able to get with him and sit down and finally be able to be coached by him, we can start working at those things one by one.”
Where are you right now?
“I’m at home. I’m at my house in Reno, Nevada.”
And how did you end up at Sierra College?
“I ended up at Sierra College, so I didn’t play my junior year. That’s a big year in recruiting. Pretty much my senior year, I knew I was going to end up going to junior college if I wanted to continue to play football.”
And do you know the history of Sierra College and the 49ers? “
Yeah. I do. I know that they practiced up there. Our D-Line coach played for the 49ers for some time. So my coaches told me that they were up there in Rocklin a long time ago.”
And you’ve been a 49ers fan throughout?
“So I would say a fan throughout, I just kind of move with players. But, definitely, when I was younger, I was rolling with the 49ers because of my mom.”
WR Emmanuel Sanders obviously was with the 49ers last year. They don’t have him anymore, and a lot of people have compared your game and said that maybe you could fit into a similar role as him. I’m wondering if Emmanuel was a receiver that you watched as you were coming up as kind of a model in the NFL?
“Yeah. So, Emmanuel, he’s just great. I saw a lot of compare me to him. For him, it’s just all aspects of the game. I just feel like he can do the same things I can do, which is catch the ball at all three levels or even just go behind the line of scrimmage with a screen pass and just break touches and make things happen. Then just also block in the run game. He’s just effort all around. He’s a complete receiver.”
Wondering whether you spoke to the 49ers about the return game, whether kickoffs and punts were something they’re interested in you doing.
“I haven’t talked to them about that yet, but I figured that was something that I will be doing.”
Your trajectory from junior college to ASU to the NFL, how has that kind of shaped you as a player versus maybe someone who got to spend three or four years in division one?
“I was a one-year starter, so I feel like for me it’s just going to keep on going up. I still feel like I haven’t even scratched the surface of what I can do as a football player and, at this position, the receiver position. I only played one year as a full-time starter. So, I still have a lot to learn, so I have a lot to grow in my game. I just think that for me, the ceiling is limitless. I don’t think there’s a ceiling to my game. That’s another exciting part because I know that I can continue to get better.”
How have you dealt with the shelter in place, staying in shape? What have you been doing over the past month or so?
“Yeah, so for staying in shape, I’ve been lucky. I have a pretty nice garage set up that I’ve been able to work. And then, I have a nice empty field right around the corner from my house. Trying to figure out ways to work out hasn’t been too much of an issue for me, but I just know that the main thing is to be in shape whenever we do get back to football.”
Growing up, is there any receiver you kind of modeled yourself after?
“I would say Odell [Beckham Jr.]. I just feel like he was somebody that I watched a lot because we’re similar in builds, similar playing style. And then, what he does after the catch. I think he was a guy that had a huge upside coming out of college. Not a lot of a lot of numbers, but just a great talent. So, I think just Odell is one of those guys that I watched a lot and somebody that I try to model my game after.”