49ers

Ward believes 'outstanding' Aiyuk is reaching a new level

49ers

If there is one 49ers player making headlines the most in training camp, it's third-year wide receiver Brandon Aiyuk. 

After an impressive rookie season in 2020, the Arizona State product seemingly struggled to get out of coach Kyle Shanahan's "doghouse" in training camp last summer and early in the 2021 NFL season before finding his footing midway through the campaign and re-establishing himself as a top receiving option in the offense. 

With a full offseason to train with second-year quarterback Trey Lance, Aiyuk has made waves in camp for his impressive performances and the fight he got into on Tuesday with linebacker Fred Warner, who consistently has pestered the young receiver thus far in practice.

Safety Jimmie Ward spoke to reporters after practice on Wednesday, where he praised Aiyuk's scrappy attitude and believes the 24-year-old receiver is having the best training camp of anyone on the field ... except Nick Bosa, of course. 

"That's why they got to fighting," Ward said. "I love to see BA fighting. I'm just saying, he's an aggressive guy, we just need that every day because right now he's having an outstanding camp, I feel like he's having the best camp out of everybody on the team both offense and defense. Well, OK ... besides [Nick] Bosa. Bosa going to be Bosa. But I'm just saying, BA is taking his game to another level, it's crazy."

 

In training camp last season, 49ers defensive backs got the better of a struggling Aiyuk. Fast forward to today, and not even the longtime veteran Ward has the upper hand on the wideout. 

"I didn't win a 1-on-1 rep with him yet," Ward added. "Last year it was a couple reps that I won against him. But not this year. I'm going to get him soon though."

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Iron sharpens iron, a motto that Shanahan and general manager John Lynch have adopted over the years. Competition brings out the best in every player and Aiyuk certainly is feeding off it. 

If Aiyuk is able to build off the momentum he has generated in training camp so far, he could end up providing the 49ers with another elite receiving option alongside Deebo Samuel and tight end George Kittle. 

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