But, once again, the rookie impressed legendary wideout and Hall of Famer Jerry Rice, who last week told ESPN he was expecting big things out of the 22-year-old.
“He was killing it yesterday,” Rice said Monday on 95.7 The Game’s The Morning Roast. “He got his fifth touchdown.”
Aiyuk Looked Like Rice on Week 10 Touchdown
On one specific play in which Aiyuk ended up scoring off of on Sunday, Rice has been there before.
— NFL (@NFL) November 15, 2020
“I have scored off that Sprint Right Option so many, many times,” Rice said. “What happens is, the second you come in motion, it determines if it’s going to be man-to-man or it’s going to be zone. If the guy goes with you, you know it’s man-to-man. Now, you’ve just got to somehow beat that guy. If you can beat him, you have the opportunity where you can score.”
“But [Aiyuk is] really coming into his own. He’s having a good time on the football field.”
Other than a nice performance by tight end Jordan Reed, whose five receptions and 62 yards were second on the team only to Aiyuk’s 7-75-1 line, there wasn’t much left to praise for the visiting team.
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Kyle Shanahan Plans On Pressuring Aiyuk
With fellow wide receiver Deebo Samuel dealing with a hamstring injury and tight end George Kittle out for likely the entire season, Aiyuk will continue getting a lot more targets in the second half of the year.
“I’ve been very proud of Brandon these last few weeks,” 49ers head coach Kyle Shanahan told ESPN last week. “Just like we did to Deebo his rookie year, we’re putting a little bit more pressure on him earlier than I would like to. You don’t like to put all that on a guy coming in and especially a guy who missed most of training camp and didn’t have an offseason. What I’ve loved about him is the pressure that he’s had, you don’t get to learn, you think you do good from, the standard of your whole life and then you get into a meeting with us on Monday and you have no idea how we see it. A lot of guys don’t react totally the right way. Just us challenging Brandon and putting that pressure on him, I see a guy who’s responded in the right way.”
In eight games to date, San Fran’s 2020 first-round pick has hauled in 35 receptions for 446 yards and three touchdowns, while adding another 61 yards and a pair of scores on the ground.
Rice Comments on 49ers’ Poor Performance
Aside from praising Aiyuk, Rice also pointed out what went wrong in Sunday’s 27-13 road loss, which dropped last year’s NFC champions to 4-6 on the season.
“You can’t have turnovers, and on special teams, we had turnovers,” said Rice. “And also, Nick Mullens, he had two interceptions.”
Rice believed the 49ers could have won, even as 9.5-point underdogs and an injury-plagued roster.
“You’ve still got to be able to fight through that,” Rice explained. “Any time you step on the football field, you feel like you have a legitimate chance of winning. You can’t just shoot yourself in your own foot. You can’t make those mistakes…I feel like the Niners had a chance of really doing something special yesterday, and it’s all about finishing. That’s the most important thing. You’ve got to be able to finish. … You know [the Saints], they have the firepower to make a run or come back. You’ve got to keep going for the throat. And that’s what I didn’t see yesterday.”