49ers rookie receiver Brandon Aiyuk worked out with some of his new teammates for the first time Wednesday. Due to a number of factors, he had spent the vast majority of the NFL offseason thus far away from them.
Players remain barred from their team practice facilities due to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic and have been forced to virtually interact for the most part. While there are obvious downsides to that restriction, particularly when it comes to hands-on instruction, Aiyuk is able to see the silver lining.
"I think it’s a good thing," Aiyuk told Eric Branch of the San Francisco Chronicle. "It forces you to fully break everything down, totally understand it, before going on the field. There is some good and bad. But you have to make the best of the situation we were dealt. Just continue to work through it."
The sheer volume of material in even the simplest of playbooks can be daunting for a rookie receiver. Kyle Shanahan's playbook is on the opposite end of that spectrum, and that's a challenge Aiyuk will have to overcome. They primarily ran a no-huddle offense at Arizona State, in which he was incredibly productive despite battling through a core-muscle injury for most of his senior season.
Aiyuk had surgery to repair the injury in April and wasn't medically cleared until a few weeks ago. It was only then that he realized how much it had affected him.
"Being (medically) cleared,” Aiyuk said, “that’s when I understood how bad that injury really was."
Now fully healthy, Aiyuk is able to start putting in on-field work with his new teammates. He plans to travel between the Bay Area and his hometown of Reno, Nev. until training camp starts in late July, during which he intends to get in as many reps as possible to reduce the learning curve.
"I don’t know exactly what it will look like,” Aiyuk said. “But I’ll be trying to get with those guys as much as I can."
Due to no fault of his own, Aiyuk might have gotten a late start. But despite the unprecedented challenge at hand, he's doing his best to catch up.
[49ERS INSIDER PODCAST: Listen to the latest episode]