49ers catch break on Aiyuk's muffed punt, odd NFL rule


The 49ers said all the right things about Brandon Aiyuk coming out of the bye week, noting that he had a "great week" of practice heading into their Week 7 game against the Indianapolis Colts.

But once the game started under stormy conditions at Levi's Stadium, the first half was one to forget for Aiyuk, and one play almost led to disaster for the 49ers.

Midway through the second quarter, Aiyuk was back to receive the punt from the Colts. Rigoberto Sanchez booted the ball and it bounced just outside the 49ers' 30-yard line.

Aiyuk let the ball bounce by him and when he attempted to pick up the ball at the 18-yard line, he kicked it into the end zone, where he finally scooped it up and eventually was tackled by the Colts.

Instead of the Colts getting two points for a safety, it was ruled a touchback and the 49ers got the ball at their own 20-yard line.

Former Vice President of Officiating for the NFL and current Fox Sports Rule Analyst Mike Pereira explained that because Aiyuk never possessed the ball, the play hadn't changed from a kick to 49ers' possession.

The 49ers went three-and-out on the next possession, but Kyle Shanahan and the 49ers coaching staff likely wasn't very happy with the second-year pro.

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Big things were expected from Aiyuk this season, but the first five games of the season were disappointing. He caught eight passes for 90 yards and one touchdown entering Sunday's game. In the first half against the Colts, Aiyuk wasn't targeted and carried the ball once on a reserve for three yards.