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Cary Edmondson-USA TODAY Sports


Why Kyle Shanahan believes 49ers’ Brandon Aiyuk is playing ‘a lot sharper’

Rohan Chakravarthi
Nov 23, 2021 at 12:30 PM--



49ers wide receiver Brandon Aiyuk has been on a tear recently after a slow start to the season, as three of his highest offensive outputs have come over the last four weeks. In addition, Aiyuk reeled in all seven of his targets for 85 yards and a touchdown against the Jacksonville Jaguars, leading the 49ers in all those categories.

With the second-year receiver taking a step forward recently after "talking" with head coach Kyle Shanahan, the 49ers have turned their own season around, as they're winners of two straight and three of their last four games, putting them at 5-5 overall and in eighth place in the NFC playoff seeding before a highly-touted matchup with a fellow playoff contender in the Minnesota Vikings this week.

In Aiyuk's resurgence, the receiver has shown a keen focus towards physicality, not only in the passing game but also in the running game, which is the foundational element of this 49ers offense.

The 23-year old's effort has certainly not gone unnoticed, as head coach Kyle Shanahan continues to rave about his young receiver and the confidence that Aiyuk has played with over the last few weeks.

"Yeah. I think B.A. has been playing at a real high level here these last few weeks in all aspects of the game," Shanahan said. "Just his physicality in the run game, his physicality when he's got the ball in his hand, and his physicality when the ball is in the air. His game has become a lot sharper, he's not hesitating on anything and I feel his confidence growing and you can see the quarterback's and his teammates' confidence growing around him."

Aiyuk has now compiled multiple 80-plus yard, one-touchdown performances this season in the receiving game, while also serving as the team's primary punt returner.

As a complement to Deebo Samuel, Aiyuk now gives the 49ers a strong 1-2 receiver punch, alongside physical tight end George Kittle, to give San Francisco a wide arsenal of offensive weapons for Jimmy Garoppolo and this rising San Francisco offense, which has scored at least 30 points in three of their last four games.

Against a strong offensive team in the Minnesota Vikings, with weapons like Adam Thielen, Justin Jefferson, and Dalvin Cook, the 49ers will need to move the ball on offense, meaning Aiyuk should be a focal point yet again this Sunday in a game with huge playoff implications.
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