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John Lynch marvels at Brandon Aiyuk’s 49ers breakthrough

Nov 23, 2023 at 10:50 AM--

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San Francisco 49ers wide receiver Brandon Aiyuk is making waves this season, putting up impressive numbers with 43 receptions for 831 yards and four touchdowns. The fourth-year player earned a career-high 156 receiving yards on Sunday against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, including a remarkable 76-yard touchdown catch.

Aiyuk is on track for 1,477 receiving yards this season. Only one player, Hall of Fame wide receiver Jerry Rice, has recorded more in a single season in franchise history. While he did it six times, that is still excellent company.

"He's a really good player," general manager John Lynch said in a sit-down with NBC Sports Bay Area this week as the 49ers prepare for their Thanksgiving matchup against the Seattle Seahawks. "He's a fun guy to watch. All the things we covet as a wide receiver, the body movements, his ability, we talk about shoulder throwing and being able to get parallel, he can do freaky things with his body.

"He's got an incredible amount of length, and I just call it go, go Gadget. His arms go as long as they need to on a given route."

Lynch recalled a conversation with Herm Edwards, Aiyuk's former coach at Arizona State, who predicted the receiver's continued ascent. Edwards praised Aiyuk as a great competitor who responds well to coaching.

"I think you see a guy who's already played some really good football, but I even think there's more in there, and we're seeing that on a weekly basis," Lynch continued.

Aiyuk's deep touchdown reception against the Buccaneers showcased his development over his four NFL seasons.

"We thought he'd be a great deep ball guy because he was at Arizona State," Lynch explained. "You couldn't overthrow him with those long arms. He'd always go get it. And he hadn't had as much success in his career early on in the deep ball as we thought he might, but I think it's all starting to come together. And you put that to his game, watch out, because he's so lethal with the underneath and intermediate routes."

Despite initial expectations surrounding Deebo Samuel, Aiyuk has emerged as the 49ers' most potent pass-catching weapon this season. He has more than doubled the production of the highly-compensated Samuel though the 49ers' first 10 games, and is due a big payday himself after this season.

Lynch added, "A tremendous football player, and I love the warrior mentality."

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