Vincent Carchietta-USA TODAY Sports

Vincent Carchietta-USA TODAY Sports

49ers WR Brandon Aiyuk feels he’ll benefit from Mohamed Sanu’s presence

Jul 31, 2021 at 9:18 AM--

Brandon Aiyuk expects to be even better than he was during his impressive rookie campaign when the San Francisco 49ers receiver hauled in 60 passes for 748 receiving yards and got into the end zone seven times (five through the air and two on the ground). Everyone has been impressed by the second-year receiver during the team's initial training camp practices, which has produced high fan expectations for Aiyuk, too.

Aiyuk stepped up to the podium on Friday to speak with reporters. He was asked about his offseason focus. What did he work on over the last six months to better prepare him for a potential leap in 2021?

"I would probably say just strength, filling out my body, more muscle, being able to endure the long season. Endurance, body strength, throughout my whole entire body," Aiyuk answered.

Aiyuk figures he added about four pounds of muscle but isn't sure about that estimate. It may actually be more because he also dropped body fat.

Last season, Aiyuk had to deal with the offseason limitations due to the pandemic. He couldn't even work in person with his new coaching staff until training camp. However, this season has been different, and Aiyuk feels having that extra time with the team will be a significant benefit.

"It was huge to have a full offseason," Aiyuk said, "an offseason where I was already able to know what I needed to work on coming into this season. Just being able to get what I needed, being able to work with the quarterbacks, and just a bunch of weight lifted off me, not having to worry about stuff outside. Just being able to worry about football and what I need to get done this season and things to work towards."

Another benefit for Aiyuk is having wide receiver Mohamed Sanu back in the building. The second-year receiver appreciates the veteran presence and what he can learn from Sanu's years of experience in the league. And Sanu has been impressed by Aiyuk, seeing the potential in the young receiver.

"He's a special talent," Sanu said of Aiyuk on Friday. "Brandon can do any and everything on the field. When he's out there, he moves really well, catches the ball really well, releases well, gets in and out of his breaks extremely well. So, watching him get better and better every day has been cool, and I'm excited to see what he does this year."

This is Sanu's second stint with the 49ers. He spent part of last season on the active roster but wasn't able to stick around. Much of that had to do with the ankle injury he sustained while with the Patriots. Matthews feels that trying to play through it in New England affected his ability to make an impact with San Francisco.

Sanu feels completely healthy now and believes he is better prepared to contribute on the football field than he was during his last stint with the 49ers. Aiyuk feels that having Sanu around longer will be a significant benefit in his development.

"I love Mo," Aiyuk said. "Mo is somebody that I gravitated towards early from the first day he came into the building last season. So, it was pretty upsetting seeing him go, but I still kept in contact with him. I'm still learning from him. And to have him back this season, seeing him in great shape, even better than where he was at last year, just being able to talk to him about certain things, he's been through it.

"He's been with a bunch of great receivers. He's a great receiver himself, so he knows everything from the ins and outs, taking care of your body, how to approach practices, how to approach off days, how to approach rehab, treatment, everything. So, somebody like that is huge."

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