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Nathan Ray Seebeck-USA TODAY Sports

Nathan Ray Seebeck-USA TODAY Sports


Kyle Shanahan praises improved 49ers WR Brandon Aiyuk

Aug 7, 2022 at 10:47 AM--


Watch out, NFL. San Francisco 49ers wide receiver Brandon Aiyuk has been the star of training camp. If that carries over into the regular season, second-year quarterback Trey Lance will have two player-makers at his disposal at wide receiver in Aiyuk and Deebo Samuel.

Last offseason, things weren't trending well for Aiyuk. The receiver seemed to be in head coach Kyle Shanahan's dog house and wasn't even a Week 1 starter. He caught just one pass for six yards in the 49ers' first two games.

By the end of the season, though, Aiyuk was showing his potential. He caught six receptions for a season-high 107 yards in the team's Week 18 matchup against the Los Angeles Rams.

Aiyuk spent a lot of time this offseason with his new starting quarterback, Lance. The two worked out together, building chemistry on and off the field.

"This second year, we got to stay in the house together with a couple of other people and just hang out by the fire, talk, really just get to know who he is," Aiyuk said last month, "and him getting to know who I am outside of playing football because that's really the only time we get to see each other. So being in there a couple of weeks, and working hard, putting in hours, grinding together, and then hanging out, just chilling afterward. It's cool. It's a great thing."

The dog house is a distant memory for Aiyuk. The third-year wideout has emerged as a team leader, improving his efforts and helping mentor the younger players in the receiver room.

"He's developing in all the stuff he needed to do to get better," Shanahan said on Saturday. "He comes off the ball every play. He runs full speed every play. He's not slow playing stuff anymore. He's not sitting there and fighting with guys with his hands. He's doing it with his feet, with his hips, creating edges by running, breaking down."

Aiyuk has been a handful for the 49ers' defensive backs. Charvarius Ward, the team's big offseason acquisition, praised Aiyuk's competitiveness on the practice field.

"I love competing against B.A. He's got big hands, long arms, and he can jump like almost 60 inches in the air," Ward said. "He's great to compete against. ... I got big hands. His hands are bigger than mine. B.A. got the potential to be one of those great receivers. He can be a real wide receiver No. 1."

Most expect the 49ers to boast one of the best defenses in the league in 2022. Aiyuk challenging the team's improved defensive backfield bodes well for the 24-year-old receiver.

"If you want to get open in this league, you have to be so violent on how you run and putting your knees into the ground and everything," Shanahan said. "And that's hard on guys a lot. They do that like three days in a row, and sometimes they have to take a week off. That's why it's so crucial how these guys prepare. And it's hard when we're not around him.

"But B.A., he did it all when he was away from us. He did it all throughout OTAs, and his body can handle everything he's doing. And that's why he is getting better right now."



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