As receiver Brandon Aiyuk embarks on his third season, the jury remains out on whether he’ll become what the 49ers expected him to be when they traded up in round one of the 2020 draft to get him.
There’s reason for optimism that he’s ready to make a leap. Coach Kyle Shanahan explained to reporters on Saturday the things that Aiyuk has been doing to improve.
“He’s developing in all the stuff he needed to do to get better,” Shanahan said. “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. 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. 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.”
As a rookie, Aiyuk had 60 catches for 748 yards and five touchdowns. Last year, he caught 56 passes for 826 yards and five scores.
The Packers were hoping to take Justin Jefferson or Aiyuk before the 49ers traded up to get him. That move greased the skids for the move to snag quarterback Jordan Love.