Aiyuk, Shanahan pleased with rookie's debut despite mistakes


The 49ers lost a bunch of players to injury in Sunday's 31-13 win over the Jets. They also had a player successfully return from one.

Brandon Aiyuk had to wait a week to make his NFL debut, but he checked that off the list Sunday, and the 49ers are undefeated when he plays.

Aiyuk didn't appear to be slowed by the hamstring injury that kept him out of San Francisco's Week 1 loss and managed to catch two passes for 21 yards. It wasn't a perfect performance, but 49ers coach Kyle Shanahan came away both pleased and impressed (h/t 49ers Webzone).

"I was happy for Brandon," Shanahan said following the win. "Anytime you're a rookie and you get to go in your first game, there's always a lot of pressure on you and stuff, especially with the fact he hadn't been out at practice that much and missing those three weeks. He got kind of thrown into the fire this week in practice and I thought he only did better in the game.

"He made a couple plays, broke a couple tackles, a couple rookie mistakes too, which we'll harping on, but that's a little expected. It was nice to see the game wasn't too big for him. He caught the ball, I thought he had a good off-schedule play and I always love watching guys break tackles."


Aiyuk used very similar language in evaluating his own performance.

"A couple rookie mistakes," he said after the game. "Mistakes that shouldn't have been made but mistakes I'll definitely have to learn from. I'll have to look at the film and just learn from those next week. But I feel good I got those out."

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It was only one game, but Aiyuk showed flashes of the talent and skill set that enticed the 49ers enough to trade up and pick him in the first round of the 2020 NFL Draft. Assuming he can stay healthy, he should have plenty of opportunities to prove he was worthy of that selection.

"I'm just ready to go to practice this week and have another week and another game and continue to keep getting better," Aiyuk added. "I would say (I have) a lot of room to improve."

Aiyuk will get a chance to build on his debut in Week 3 against the New York Giants.