49ers’ DeMeco Ryans Reveals Where Brandon Aiyuk Has Had Upper-Hand

Brandon Aiyuk

Getty Brandon Aiyuk after the 49ers' Week 18 win of the 2021 season.

Safe to say, Brandon Aiyuk is nowhere near that “doghouse” he was in at the beginning of last season with the San Francisco 49ers.

He’s established himself as, arguably, the standout performer in Santa Clara during 2022 training camp — with delivering a “highlight reel” practice on Wednesday, August 3, making contested grabs in the end zone and 49ers captain Jimmie Ward praising the performance of the 2020 first rounder.

Aiyuk has certainly been on a different kind of roll from the slow start he had last season — which saw him delivering just one game of four catches through the first six games according to Pro Football Reference to producing nine contests of 4-9 grabs the rest of the way including playoffs. Now, he’s found ways to consistently wear down the 49ers defense and has become to toast of 49ers social media.

But one 49ers coach detailed with the Bay Area media following Wednesday’s camp practice where Aiyuk has really had the upper hand during camp.

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DeMeco Ryans on Aiyuk

Currently, DeMeco Ryans isn’t preparing for Cooper Kupp, De'Andre Hopkins, D.K. Metcalf or newcomer to the NFC West Allen Robinson. But his unit has had to deal with a lot of Aiyuk.

Is it his speed, which was one of his primary strengths entering the league, that has given Aiyuk the advantage in camp? Or is it the hands?

Ryans told the media that it's neither. It's his work ethic that's dominating the 49ers on defense in camp.

“Yeah B.A., I think he’s done an exceptional job of just getting better at his technique," Ryans said.

But that’s not all. Ryans has noticed how high Aiyuk’s concentration level is on the field when he has the safety Ward, newcomer Charvarius Ward, or returner Emmanuel Moseley in the same vicinity as he’s in. Regardless of cornerback, Aiyuk has established himself as a consistent contested catcher.

“And the thing you love about B.A. is just the contested catches that he makes. It doesn’t matter. Guys are in tight coverage on him. They’re competing. They’re where they’re supposed to be, but when the ball is up, he just goes up with aggressive hands, comes down with the ball,” Ryans said. “So it’s fun to see the competition that goes on with B.A. and our corners, our safeties. And it’s great to see him at the place where he’s at right now, playing at a really high level.”

Prized Free Agent CB Praising Aiyuk

Even the 49ers’ top free agent signing of the offseason Charvarius Ward has had difficulty covering Aiyuk according to some camp attendees.

Rohan Chakravarthi of 49ers Web Zone spotted Aiyuk beating not only the former Kansas City Chief one-on-one, but then Jimmie Ward on the second rep.

Charvarius Ward, however, has instead praised Aiyuk’s performances at the SAP Performance Center and described with NBC Sports Bay Area columnist Matt Maiocco what it’s like to go against the former Arizona State Sun Devil.

“B.A. be having a great camp,” Charvarius Ward told Maiocco. “I love competing against B.A. He’s got big hands, long arms, and he can jump like almost 60 inches in the air. He’s great to compete against. I got big hands. His hands are bigger than mine. B.A. got the potential to be one of those great receivers. He can be a real wide receiver No. 1.

“He can run routes, go balls, he can catch slants, short passes, everything. He’s got that potential. He’s just got to continue to work on his game,” Ward continued.

From what it appears, the “doghouse” days are long gone for No. 11 on the 49ers.

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