As a first-round draft choice, you’re expected to produce in a big way. When the San Francisco 49ers selected Brandon Aiyuk in the first round of the 2020 NFL Draft, expectations were placed upon the former Arizona State Sun Devil to provide a spark to their passing attack.
Seven weeks through the NFL season, Aiyuk’s beginning to find his footing on football’s biggest stage. To date, Aiyuk currently sits second on the 49ers roster in targets (32), receptions (20), and receiving yards (280), only trailing All-Pro tight end George Kittle in all three categories.
Kittle, along with fellow receiver Deebo Samuel, have set the tone for Aiyuk on the field. Aiyuk joined radio station 95.7 The Game on Wednesday and spoke on having his teammates lead by example:
"I think playing with those two guys, especially, and you watch them catch the ball and just go get every single yard and just finish every single run," said Aiyuk.
"You have no choice but to do the same then when you get the football in your hands. When you're watching film, you don't want to be the person that's called out because you didn't finish a run or you left a couple of yards out on the field… I think playing with those two guys makes everybody when anybody touches the ball; it just makes you want to go get those extra yards and just finish every single run in every opportunity you get when you touch the football."
While Aiyuk continues to establish himself as a legitimate pass-catching option early in his career, head coach Kyle Shanahan has utilized Aiyuk’s abilities as a ball-carrier as well, scoring two touchdowns on the ground while averaging 17.3 yards per touch.
Coming off his best performance to date (6 catches for 115 yards), Aiyuk will look to step into the role of alpha for San Francisco’s receiving corps thanks to an injury to Samuel that is expected to sideline him for a few weeks.
Although Aiyuk has yet to put up monster numbers akin to fellow rookie receivers such as Justin Jefferson and Chase Claypool, the former Sun Devil is now presented with a window of opportunity to further prove his high draft selection after an already promising start to his rookie campaign.