ASU Football: How Garoppolo Injury Affects Aiyuk
There was a slew of injuries in the NFL over the weekend to several key players around the league. But no team got hit harder with the injury bug than the San Francisco 49ers.
The defending NFC Champions lost defensive linemen Nick Bosa and Solomon Thomas, who are two of their best defensive players, to torn ACL’s after getting carted off the field in Sunday’s 31-13 win against the New York Jets.
While on the offensive side of the ball, starting quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo left the game in the first half and did not return with an ankle injury, as did starting running back Raheem Mostert, who sprained his MCL,
The length of the Garoppolo injury will be crucial for the development and progression of rookie first-round pick Brandon Aiyuk. For first-year receivers and skill players in general, having consistency at the quarterback position helps young talent get accustomed to the offense while creating a relationship between the pass-catcher and signal-caller.
In a west-coast style offense, like the one that Shanahan and the Niners run, timing is extremely important, as a lot of intermediate crossing routes and screens are run. So the more repetitions that Aiyuk can get with his veteran quarterback, the better.
Garoppolo’s currently considered week-to-week after suffering the high right ankle sprain on the fourth play of the game. This type of injury can linger if it doesn’t heal properly.
This arguably affects Aiyuk more than any player on offense, as he was expected to be one of the main outside targets for San Francisco in the early weeks, especially with the injury to Deebo Samuel. So now Aiyuk is in danger of losing out on extra targets and reps that could’ve helped his growth throughout the year.
In their first and only half they’ve played together this season, Aiyuk was targeted twice and had one reception for eight yards. When backup quarterback Nick Mullens came in during the second half, the production from Aiyuk was similar. Aiyuk finished with two receptions for 21 yards on four targets in his NFL debut.
Aiyuk just came back from an injury himself, after missing the 49ers opening game against the Cardinals due to a hamstring issue. While the Garoppolo injury and its uncertain timeline aren’t ideal for Aiyuk, this will be looked at as just another hurdle that the former Sun Devil will have to jump during his transition into the NFL.