SANTA CLARA -- Down three receivers, Kyle Shanahan expects 49ers rookie Brandon Aiyuk to play a significant role in his offense.
With Deebo Samuel rehabbing from a Jones fracture, Jalen Hurd on injured reserve with an ACL tear and Travis Benjamin opting out of the 2020 season, the young wideout quickly has been worked in with the first unit during 11-on-11s. Shanahan is confident in Aiyuk’s progress.
“He has the ability, worked hard from a mental standpoint so he’s earned some reps there,” Shanahan said. “These practices are huge for a rookie like that. We’re expecting him to play a lot this year just like we were expecting Deebo and Jalen last year.”
While the head coach explained that the ones and twos have blended together a bit over the first few days of camp, Aiyuk has done his homework.
Many rookie wide receivers that have spent time in coach Kyle Shanahan’s system have shared how challenging it can be. The learning curve usually is very steep because of the verbose nature of the play calls.
Aiyuk has been able to handle the pressure. Without a rookie minicamp or OTAs, the Arizona State product quickly has stepped in as a go-to receiver for Jimmy Garoppolo.
“Even without injuries as a football player, as a receiver that’s just something I wanted to do on my own,” Aiyuk said. “Just to come in and have that sense of urgency in everything I do.”
Aiyuk spent some time in Nashville during the offseason working with Garoppolo and some of the other skill position players for the 49ers. He also took advantage of virtual meetings.
According to Shanahan, Aiyuk still has a lot to learn but he has been impressive so far. The rookie’s consistency has been one of his most important qualities.
“When you have a lot of pressure on you, you can’t miss a day or you get behind and he’s doing that both mentally and physically.”