Brandon Aiyuk had the best season for any rookie receiver in 49ers history . . . in the non-Jerry Rice category, mind you.
Aiyuk caught 60 passes for 748 yards and five touchdowns, and added two more touchdowns on running plays.
And he did it all in just 12 games, which is good and bad.
It's good because it gives a hint of what Aiyuk can accomplish if he is on the field for every game. But it's bad because Aiyuk's lack of availability was part of the team's alarming trend of losing key players for significant parts of the season.
Aiyuk said building his body to withstand the rigors of an NFL season is at the top of his to-do list in the offseason months. He missed one game with a hamstring injury, two games while on the reserve/COVID-19 list and another with a season-ending high ankle sprain.
"Last year, I had to go through some things in the offseason that didn’t allow me to have my body prepared and ready for the long NFL season," Aiyuk said. "So I felt like I was playing catch up. Just being able to go into this offseason and attack this offseason the right way so that when the 2021 season starts, I’m ready to go."
Aiyuk underwent core-muscle surgery in April, just weeks before the 49ers traded up to select him with the No. 25 overall pick in the draft. The recovery prevented Aiyuk from his normal training routine.
Moreover, the league-wide cancellations of offseason programs did not provide Aiyuk with the opportunity to work closely with the 49ers' strength and conditioning staff or step onto the field for supervised practice sessions.
Then, the first part of the season was a whirlwind.
Aiyuk sustained a hamstring injury in training camp. His girlfriend gave birth to the couple's first child, Braylon, on Sept. 7. All the while, he was trying to grasp the 49ers' complex offense.
"It was definitely crazy timing, having a son and playing an NFL game within a week," Aiyuk said. "But it definitely added another piece of motivation, just knowing everything I do is for him."
But Aiyuk said he is built in a way to stay hungry.
"First and foremost, that’s already inside of me, that I feel like I haven’t done anything, yet," Aiyuk said. "It’s easy to stay grounded when you’re still working toward things. That’s the goal, to always be working toward something."
Aiyuk said he also is surrounded by family, friends, teammates and coaches who stress that he has not arrived, that it will require a lot of hard work to ultimately achieve greatness.
"It’s just about continuing to work and get better, and finding those places where you always can (get better)," Aiyuk said.