One of the strangest parts of the 49ers season has been the sporadic performance from wide receiver Brandon Aiyuk. The expectations were high for Aiyuk after an exciting rookie year when he racked 60 receptions for 748 receiving yards and seven total touchdowns. However, the 2020 first-round pick has struggled to get touches all season.
Things have trended in the right direction recently, though. Head coach Kyle Shanahan has offered some effusive praise for Aiyuk’s improvement in practice over the past month, and his on-field performance has reflected that. After recording just 96 receiving yards in the first six games of the season, Aiyuk hauled in four catches for 45 receiving yards against the Bears and six receptions for 89 yards and a touchdown in the past two weeks.
Niners quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo was asked about Aiyuk’s bounce-back performances in his press availability on Thursday. Garoppolo credited the 49ers coaching staff, Aiyuk’s mindset, and veteran wideout Mohamed Sanu.
“It could be a number of things. I think it starts with his [Brandon Aiyuk’s] mindset and just what he brings every day into the building. I think other guys have helped him, talked to him. Mo [Mohamed Sanu] played a big role just being the veteran leadership in that room, I think Deebo, and then all the coaches obviously playing their role in it. But it’s a group effort. It’s not just one guy, but B.A. has been showcasing some good things lately.”
Garoppolo also discussed how much easier it makes his life when Aiyuk is thriving. While Deebo Samuel has been fantastic this year, Aiyuk undeniably adds another dynamic to the offense and gives the offense another path to success.
“It always helps me. Whenever guys are coming on like that and playing better every week, it makes a quarterback’s job easier. But I mean, when you could just distribute it differently, you guys dropped the stat with [WR] Deebo [Samuel] having such a high percentage a couple of weeks ago, when we could get away from that and get other guys the ball, we have a lot of playmakers on this team and so whenever we could do that, it’s always a good thing.”
Aiyuk has taken off during these past couple of weeks. There’s a direct correlation between him succeeding and the offense moving the ball. Against the Rams Monday night, the 49ers will need every yard from Aiyuk.