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Gregory Fisher-USA TODAY Sports

Kyle Shanahan: 49ers’ Brandon Aiyuk was ‘ready for the moment’ vs. Steelers

Sep 11, 2023 at 3:41 PM--

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Brandon Aiyuk is the next big-name San Francisco 49ers player in line for a contract extension. If he strings together a season full of games that looks like Sunday's outing against the Pittsburgh Steelers, expect him to earn a very nice payday next year.

Aiyuk finished Week 1 with a game-leading 129 yards and two touchdowns, catching all eight of his targets by quarterback Brock Purdy. Aiyuk ranks third in the NFL in receiving yards, behind Tyreek Hill of the Miami Dolphins and Justin Jefferson of the Minnesota Vikings.

One game is a small sample size, but speaking to reporters on a conference call Monday, the day after the 49ers' impressive 30-7 win, the head coach was asked to identify the biggest difference he's seen in his star receiver.

"[He's] more consistent," Kyle Shanahan said. "I thought he came a long way last year in that, as the year went. I think that's why he ended up leading our team in receiving, and he carried that into the offseason. And I didn't know if he was going to get all those opportunities going into the game. You never know how it's going to play out, but he got eight opportunities and he came down with all eight of them. So that doesn't always mean you get more. Sometimes, that means you get more attention, and they take it away, which helps out other people. So you never know which direction it's going to go each week.

"But the coolest thing about B.A. is how ready he came to play, regardless. You see him on some of those run plays and stuff from the beginning to the end, and usually, when he's like that in the run game, it carries over to the pass game. The pass game is just a little more out of your control. But yesterday, it all fell to him, and he was ready for the moment and had a big-time game."

San Francisco drafted Aiyuk (6-0, 200) out of Arizona State with the No. 25 overall pick in 2020. The 25-year-old has caught 202 passes for 2,718 yards and 20 touchdowns while adding 117 rushing yards and two rushing touchdowns on 13 carries in 47 game appearances (45 starts) through his four NFL seasons.

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