He showed off on day one with a 35-yard reception from QB1 Jimmy Garoppolo:
As a rookie last season, Aiyuk reeled in 60 receptions for 748 yards and five receiving and carried the football six times for 77 yards. He set some new benchmarks with those numbers–– ranking third all-time in franchise history for a “rook” for receiving yards, second all-time for receptions, and tied for second among first-year players with his receiving touchdowns.
Aiyuk is on tap for a breakout season as one of the top targets in a trio that also features third-year receiver Deebo Samuel and vetted tight end, George Kittle––AKA the “YAC Bros.”
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Garoppolo Praises Aiyuk’s Body Language
Aiyuk spent OTAs sideline with a groin injury but took full advantage of his rest days to come back healthy and ready for training camp.
And his preparation didn’t go unnoticed by head coach Kyle Shanahan: “He had a little bit of setback and just talking to him and seeing him out there, he’s done everything he can to improve off that. I feel he’s in a better spot, but time will tell.”
Garoppolo didn’t get a chance to work out with Aiyuk this offseason, but is already confident in the chemistry he has with Aiyuk.
“He’s just one of those guys, his body language, it allows me to anticipate throws,” Garoppolo said Wednesday about the throw (above) to Aiyuk. “So we had a couple of them today. The breakdown in the play that you’re talking about … usually as a quarterback, you’ve got to point them where you want him. And he just broke literally when I broke, when we escaped the pocket together.”
Aiyuk wasn’t off to a great start during his rookie season, but when Samuel was struck with a hamstring injury, Aiyuk was forced to step up and that pressure changed his game for the better.
Deebo Wants Aiyuk to Fix One Thing
While everyone has hopped on the Aiyuk hype train, Deebo knows there is plenty of room for improvement.
“One thing that we always pick on BA about is coming off the ball because he has everything else — the routes, the hands,” Samuel told reporters on Wednesday. “So, if he can come off the ball like he’s supposed to every play, he’s kind of an unguardable guy.”
An injury-plagued 2020 season kept Samuel from having a breakout year. A foot fracture sidelined him the first three games of the year and then a hamstring injury happened in Week 7. He later missed the final three games of the season with injuries as well.
Alongside Aiyuk, at WR1 or 2, he will be on a mission to bounce back this season.
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