In addition to seeing more targets as a wide receiver on offense, Brandon Aiyuk has continued to progress as a punt returner on special teams.
49ers special teams coordinator Richard Hightower spoke to the media Wednesday and detailed Aiyuk's progress in the return game this season, including a few key returns in San Francisco's 33-22 win over the Chicago Bears in Week 8.
“Yeah, he's getting better and better," Hightower said. "The maturation process applies to all positions, to all players. He's getting better and better at that. I thought he did a really nice job of getting to that football and filled in that football. That was a really good sequence of plays for us."
"We felt like the kickoff, obviously we were down there at 16-15, on the kickoff that we had there and got that stopped at the 16-yard line because that dude's a dangerous dude. And then come out and we have the defense stopped them in five plays. They punted to us. Aiyuk had that explosive return, 21 yards out to midfield. And then the offense takes the ball six plays, 52 yards there and scores. And we take our first lead of the game, you know, 23-16. So, that was a huge play by Aiyuk. And we're seeing him get more and more comfortable."
San Francisco has not had a consistent threat in the return game in quite some time, but Hightower and the 49ers are hoping that Aiyuk can fill that role for the foreseeable future.
Whether it be in the return game or the passing game, any time Aiyuk is on the field is a positive sign.