Tim Heitman-USA TODAY Sports

Tim Heitman-USA TODAY Sports

Brandon Aiyuk has John Lynch excited about the 49ers’ future

Jan 10, 2021 at 10:07 AM--

By the end of the 2020 season, wide receiver Brandon Aiyuk looked a lot more comfortable in the San Francisco 49ers offense and appeared ready to leap to becoming a dangerous offensive weapon.

From Week 7 through Week 15, Aiyuk averaged 94.7 receiving yards per game through six appearances. To put that into perspective, maintaining that average throughout a 16-game season would clock in at 1,514 receiving yards.

Aiyuk has just scratched the surface. That has 49ers general manager John Lynch excited. The young receiver would have benefited more from a normal offseason leading into his rookie year. That didn't happen, and it may have contributed to a slower start.

"Brandon Aiyuk, he's everything we thought he would be, and a little bit more," John Lynch told Tim Kawakami of The Athletic on The TK Show podcast. "When we got him, he had the core muscle surgery over the offseason, so that coupled with COVID, and not having a traditional offseason, he really wasn't able to train the way that a receiver needs to train to get ready for a season."

Aiyuk still finished with 60 receptions for 748 yards with five receiving touchdowns and two rushing scores. That was good enough to rank third in franchise history in receiving yards — only Deebo Samuel's 802 in 2019 and Jerry Rice's 927 in 1985 rank higher.

Aiyuk's 60 receptions are the second-most in franchise history. Earl Cooper had 83 in 1980.

"And then we asked a lot of him," Lynch continued. "We wanted him to be right there with Deebo as kind of our premier guys, and that was a lot. He had a hamstring tweak early in the year. Once he got out there, though, you saw he improved each and every week."

Lynch and the 49ers hope they've found a duo of receivers that will help frustrate defensive backs for years to come. The team may have hit at receiver two drafts in a row. Considering San Francisco's struggles with drafting receivers, that is significant.

"The best quality about both those guys, they want to be great," Lynch added. "When you say that, yeah, of course, every player wants to be great. Are they willing to put in the work to be great? And the answer is yes for both of them. They both have the ability.

"We're in a position, I really believe -- they're both different -- but I think we've got two number one receivers, if those guys can stay on the field, in Deebo and Brandon Aiyuk. ... We're very excited about Brandon's makeup and then just the skillset that he brings. He's got a lot to give, and he's only going to get better."

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