Darren Yamashita-USA TODAY Sports

Darren Yamashita-USA TODAY Sports


Brandon Aiyuk grateful for eye-opening conversations with 49ers, leading to turnaround

Dec 15, 2021 at 5:24 PM--


Brandon Aiyuk said in November that he had "some words" with his head coach, Kyle Shanahan. That created headlines following the San Francisco 49ers wide receiver's turnaround this season. The use of "some words" had a confrontational feel, as if it took some harsh criticisms from the coach to turn things around. However, ensuing reports made it clear that the conversation was probably more civil than the initial chatter indicated.

A lot of good came from Aiyuk's talks with Shanahan. On Wednesday, the second-year wideout joined KNBR and explained how he benefited from the forthright conversations.

"I think that was just an opportunity for them, talking to me about what they feel, what I need to get done, and where they see things at," Aiyuk said on the Murph & Mac show. "And I think that was just an opportunity for me to see it in a way that I haven't seen it before or heard it before. So, I think that conversation was great.

"And that was pretty much what it was, just clearing the air and just getting on common ground so we can move forward."

Those types of honest conversations can be difficult to hear for some players. But, for Aiyuk, it opened his eyes to the 49ers' expectations for the young receiver.

"I was glad to actually hear it because I was able to understand what they were seeing," Aiyuk explained, "and what they were thinking, and how they thought because we thought completely different. I think [it was great] for them to get it out that way and for me to get on the same page as them."

Earlier this month, Shanahan described his conversations with Aiyuk as civil and productive.

"We had good words, a good dialogue, a good discussion," Shanahan said. "Not just one. Probably about 100 of them. So, it's something that we've got a good relationship. He knows I push him hard, but I think he knows what my intent is. My intent is to get him to be the best receiver he can be, so he can help the Niners. And his goal is to be the best receiver he can be, one, so he can help the Niners, but [also] so he can support his family and have a hell of a career."

Aiyuk had an impressive rookie campaign, hauling in 60 passes for 748 receiving yards and five touchdowns through 12 game appearances. Understandably, the early success might have gone to the receiver's head.

Aiyuk hadn't arrived quite yet, though. He now realizes that there is much more to being a professional if he wants sustained success. That's something some first-year players never understand, thinking they will carry their college success into the NFL.

"I think people say it a lot," Aiyuk said of the term "learning to be a pro." "I heard it a lot coming out of college, but you don't really know exactly what that means until you get here, and you have coaches like this who tell you what it is to actually be a pro. Everybody comes into the league and just believes that they're a pro, and that's not the case. That's what I thought, and that was definitely not the case.

"So, I'm definitely learning how to be a professional all the way, in the building, how you carry yourself. Not just on the football field but how you walk around, as well."

The lessons have paid off. After a slow start, Aiyuk's production has increased. He has 41 receptions for 549 receiving yards and four touchdowns through 13 games this season, and could be a big reason why the 49ers return to the playoffs.

You can listen to the entire conversation with Aiyuk below.




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