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Nathan Ray Seebeck-USA TODAY Sports

Nathan Ray Seebeck-USA TODAY Sports

Why Brandon Aiyuk is building excitement about the 49ers’ future

Rohan Chakravarthi
Nov 21, 2021 at 2:45 PM--

Brandon Aiyuk came to play, yet again, during Sunday's early-morning 31-10 win against the Jacksonville Jaguars, catching all seven of his targets for 85 yards and a touchdown, leading the 49ers in all three categories.

Aiyuk, who's been a major factor in the passing game over the last four weeks in a complementary role to star Deebo Samuel, has shown signs of his rookie self, and was a crucial player in the passing game for Jimmy Garoppolo, who seemed to trust his 23-year old receiver in key throwing situations.

Samuel, who was utilized mainly as a rusher Sunday, only had one catch for 15 yards as opposed to eight carries for 79 yards and a touchdown.

After the game, Kyle Shanahan had nothing but praise for his prized sophomore receiver, explaining how the coaching staff knew what Aiyuk had in the tank, which was why they rode him as hard as they did.

"I think it says more about him as a person than anything because we all know B.A. is a talented dude," Shanahan said. "But it takes a lot of stuff to be able to play in this league week in and week out. He started out behind this year. And I know I rode him hard, and his [receivers] coach did, and a lot of us did.

Despite the standard that Shanahan set, the head coach was impressed at how Aiyuk responded to the pressure placed upon him.

"And I just thought it was impressive how, being younger, being new to this league, when things aren't going your right way, and people are putting pressure on you, not just outside, but inside, a lot of guys tend to point the finger and feel sorry for themselves, which is what worries you. And you've got to wait until the offseason, almost, to bring them back."

Rather than succumbing to the pressure, Shanahan described how Aiyuk solely focused on improving his craft, both on game days and in practice, and how the receiver continued putting in the work when the gameplan didn't go in his favor.

"He wasn't like that. He kept working, kept trying to get better, and I knew everyone's seen it these last couple of weeks, but you could see it happening in practice too. He didn't always get the results and the targets and stuff, but we don't really plan that. I thought Deebo [Samuel] would get more targets today. It just comes out the way it does."

As the 49ers head towards the last stretch of the season, Shanahan noted how with Aiyuk, Samuel, and tight end George Kittle, the 49ers finally had their three top options fully healthy for a period of time, which has heavily contributed to their success over the last two weeks.

And when you've got Aiyuk out there playing like a true starting player, Deebo, [George] Kittle, I think it's the first time we've had those three, three weeks in a row, I don't know if this is right, but it seems like in two years, almost. I don't know if they've ever been out [there together] that many times week after week, so it's been good. And when they're like that, they're out there more consistently, I think we just get better as a whole with the quarterback. Everyone can be more consistent."

With Garoppolo having arguably the best stretch of his career, the 49ers will ride their momentum back to Levi's Stadium in a crucial game with major playoff implications against the Minnesota Vikings, as the two teams are currently tied in the playoff standings.

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