Much has been made of the talks between Brandon Aiyuk and Kyle Shanahan that helped turn the 49ers wide receiver's season around.
Early on this season, Aiyuk was competing for snaps with Trent Sherfield and struggled to get targets when he did see the field. But Shanahan and Aiyuk cleared the air and the head coach explained to the second-year receiver exactly what he wanted to see from him going forward. The results have been hard to argue with, as Aiyuk has been a different player over the past six weeks for the 49ers (28 catches for 408 yards and three touchdowns).
Aiyuk explained to KNBR's "Murph and Mac" how his conversations with Shanahan helped give him new life this season.
“I think that was just an opportunity for them talking to me about what they feel, what I needed to get done, and where they see things at,” Aiyuk said. “That was an opportunity for me to see it in a way we hadn’t seen it before or heard it before. I think that conversation was great, and that was pretty much what it was. Just clearing the air and getting on common ground so we could move forward.
“I was glad to actually hear it because I was able to understand what they were seeing and they were thinking, and how they saw because we saw it completely different. For them to get it out that way and me to get on the same page as them.”
Talent is necessary to survive in the NFL. But in order to maximize your potential, you need to learn how to be a pro. For Aiyuk, his talks with Shanahan helped show him what he needed to do in order to earn more on-field opportunities.
“Absolutely. People say it a lot, I heard it a lot coming out of college, but you don’t really know exactly what that means until you get here and you have coaches like this who tell you what it is to actually be a pro, Aiyuk said. "Everybody comes into the league and believes that they are, but that’s not the case. That’s what I thought, definitely not the case.
“Definitely learning how to be a professional in the building, how you carry yourself not just on the football field, but how you walk around as well.”
With Aiyuk reborn, the 49ers now have another dynamic pass-catching weapon that can take some of the pressure off Deebo Samuel and George Kittle. If all three are healthy and pulling in the same direction, then the 49ers will be one of the hardest teams to defend down the stretch.