Brandon Aiyuk is out to prove why the San Francisco 49ers selected him as the 25th overall pick of the 2020 NFL Draft.
The former Arizona State receiver posted a video to Instagram Thursday night, showing off a recent day of catching, route-running and working out.
The training video is the first that Aiyuk has posted since being drafted by the 49ers in April after the receiver exploded in his senior season with the Sun Devils.
After 474 yards and three touchdowns in 2018, Arizona State and head coach Herm Edwards saw Aiyuk become their most dynamic offensive weapon, hauling in 1192 yards and eight touchdowns.
From the perspective of 49ers fans, the most exciting things to see in Aiyuk’s video are the rookie’s speed and an insane grab he makes about halfway through the video.
Aiyuk’s Catching Ability
Goodness, the grab that Aiyuk makes in the first half of the video is pretty nice.
Running what appears to be a slant, Aiyuk is able to do his best impression of Cleveland Browns receiver Odell Beckham Jr. with a one-handed grab. The rookie tops it off with an enthusiastic, “Gimme that!”
Seeing Aiyuk make an insane grab is nothing new for Arizona State fans, but his time with a better-than-average Sun Devils was overshadowed by bigger names like Oklahoma WR CeeDee Lamb or Alabama WR Jerry Jeudy.
In his two seasons in Tempe, Arizona, Aiyuk caught 69.5 percent of his passes, which marginally trails Lamb and Jeudy over the same time span, who logged 74.2 percent and 75.1 percent respectively.
But, like Lamb and Jeudy, his catching ability is a strength, but it’s a vehicle to get Aiyuk the ball in dangerous spots.
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21 miles per hour is pretty fast, and a likely reason why Aiyuk wanted to include that tidbit in his video is probably due to his undesirable 40-yard dash time at the 2020 NFL Combine.
Aiyuk’s 4.5 second time came while the receiver was battling a groin injury, which he later had surgery on after the prep period for the draft concluded.
A sample of Aiyuk highlights, however, show that the receiver doesn’t have any problem with speed on the field.
This is complemented by Edwards’ comments, in which the coach brought up a measured comparison to 49ers legend Jerry Rice on 95.7 The Fan in San Francisco.
“I’m not saying he’s compared to this guy, because he’s not,” Edwards said. “But Jerry Rice, if you ran him in the 40, you go ‘this guy can’t run.’ Jerry Rice in a football uniform? Playing a football game? And I know — I tried to cover him. You ain’t catching him. That’s football speed. This guy’s got football speed now.”
Obviously thinking that Aiyuk can reach the echelon that Rice reached is a stretch, but Edwards’ point remains solid: Aiyuk may not be the guy destroying combine records, but the tape and stats have shown that Aiyuk not only gets open, he turns average plays into big ones.
Evan Reier is a sportswriter covering the San Francisco 49ers for Heavy.com and local sports for the Montana Standard in Butte, MT. Follow and reach out to him on Twitter at @evanreier.