The biggest storyline of the early part of last season was the freezing of Brandon Aiyuk out of the offense. Yesterday Kyle Shanahan heaped praise on the third-year receiver and explained why there was a disconnect between Aiyuk and what the team expected of him.
“You have to go through experiences to learn stuff...His rookie season was COVID year. And so he didn’t have anything in the offseason. He just showed up here and we didn’t even know until about two weeks before he showed up whether we were having a season or not, so he was a little behind and then training camp was kind of a joke for the whole league. And so the season was kind of weird and then we had so many people get hurt and he had to play a ton, but that’s all he knew with NFL. So his experience is man, I just kind of showed up and I started all year and people say I’m going be one of the best guys next year. And he does have that ability, but he thought that was NFL.
The next offseason was COVID still, so we didn’t have the right rules. And he didn’t know he had to do anything until camp, so he just came a little behind. And he was like, ‘Oh man, this camp’s tougher than last year.’ It’s like yeah, last year wasn’t camp. And then you get into the season and it’s man, this is different.
I think Brandon, instead of blaming other people and making excuses, he worked, didn’t say a lot, just kept going to work. And he’s a smart dude and he is perceptive and he learned, wow, this is right. This is totally different. Man, I’m going to be ready for year three, because year two was really my rookie year and that’s why he is so much further ahead right now. And sometimes guys have to get cut to learn that. And that’s what you hope guys don’t have to do, but guys have to learn it somewhere.”
Shanahan has been singing Aiyuk’s praises all summer long, returning to OTAs, which continued yesterday. What a difference a year makes. I think it’s safe to say that Aiyuk will have more than nine catches in the first six games this season. It also gives me a little more hope for a guy like Trey Sermon, who struggled to get on the field in his rookie season.
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