The 49ers are hopeful rookie Brandon Aiyuk can step in and become an immediate contributor on offense - especially with Deebo Samuel set to miss time due to a stress fracture in his foot. In an unorthodox season for not only the rookies, but all involved, Aiyuk is already beginning to separate himself from the pack.
The team held its first full-speed practice on Saturday, the rookie's first time lining up across from San Francisco's defense. In his debut, Aiyuk caught a short pass up the left sideline from Jimmy Garoppolo and a 20-yard reception from Nick Mullens, where the rookie managed to get both feet in before running out of bounds. The rookie was also in the mix as a return specialist during the day's special teams drills.
Thus far, Kyle Shanahan has been pleased with his first-year wideout – not only his progress on the field, but his preparedness in one of the most complex offenses in the league.
"I've been really impressed with him, just being around him," Shanahan said. "He was very impressive on the Zoom meetings, just his attention to detail. Since we've gotten here, just going into these walkthroughs and stuff, you can tell he knows how to practice like a pro. You can tell he comes prepared every day. He's not a guy you've have to teach how to act or teach how important it is to learn this stuff. You can tell he understood that before he got here. Since we've been around him, you can tell he's been working and that's why he's further ahead I think that a lot of rookies would be at this time."
During his two seasons at Arizona State, Aiyuk amassed 98 receptions for 1,666 yards and 11 touchdowns, in addition to returning 28 kickoff returns for 760 yards (27.1 average), and 25 punt returns for 293 yards (11.7 average) and one touchdown on special teams. Aiyuk also led the nation in yards after the catch, averaging 9.9 yards, something Shanahan values in his receivers. With the loss of Emmanuel Sanders this offseason and Samuel's status in the air for Week 1, the 49ers are hopeful Aiyuk can continue to flourish, and build a rapport with Garoppolo throughout camp.
For observations and a recap from Day 1 at #49ersCamp, visit here.