Arizona State

49ers' Brandon Aiyuk ran faster at ASU than all but three NFL players

49ers' Brandon Aiyuk ran faster at ASU than all but three NFL players

Anyone who saw him play at Arizona State knows that one thing is unequivocally true about 49ers first-round pick Brandon Aiyuk: the man is remarkably fast in the open field.

So fast in fact, that only three NFL players reached a higher speed in-game than Aiyuk’s 21.97 mph, recorded by a GPS device within Aiyuk’s shoulder pads.

In addition to former 49er Matt Breida, whose 22.3 mph was the top speed in the league in 2019, returners Cordarrelle Patterson from the Chicago Bears and Brandon Wilson from the Cincinnati Bengals were the only other players to be tracked at a faster rate.

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Aiyuk’s pedestrian 4.5 40-yard dash at the NFL Scouting Combine made some question the hype, but a core-muscle injury Aiyuk had surgery to repair contributed to that slow time, according to 49ers vice president of player personnel Adam Peters.

[RELATED: 49ers Ultimate Draft grades]

“Dom DeCicco brought up a great point because Dom had had the same injury,” Peters told The Athletic. “And he told me that to be able to run a 4.5 with that injury — it’s not only painful but it’s really, really hard to do.”

DeCicco is one of the 49ers’ scouts and recognized that Aiyuk’s combine performance clearly was hampered by the surgery.

The speedster has plenty of time to recover before the 2020 regular season, when he finally can bring that top-of-the-line acceleration to Levi’s Stadium.

49ers draft pick Brandon Aiyuk reminds college coach of Torry Holt

49ers draft pick Brandon Aiyuk reminds college coach of Torry Holt

Brandon Aiyuk already is drawing plenty of NFL comparisons, months before he’ll take his first snap in a 49ers uniform.

His ridiculous wingspan for a wide receiver makes people liken him to a much taller former All-Pro, while NBC Sports Bay Area’s Donte Whitner sees him more like a former division rival.

But on Tuesday, Arizona State wide receivers coach Charlie Fisher told Niners Nation’s Kyle Posey that Aiyuk reminded him of a player Fisher coached at North Carolina State years earlier: Torry Holt.

Holt himself tweeted out a scouting report of Aiyuk heading into the NFL Draft.

Aiyuk’s speed and proliferation of yards after the catch make him a tantalizing addition to Kyle Shanahan’s offense. When putting on the tape, it’s not hard to see where Fisher is coming from with the comparison.

[RELATED: 49ers picking Aiyuk could lead to Rodgers-Packers divorce]

Holt was a seven-time Pro Bowler and is one of just four wideouts in NFL history with multiple seasons of at least 1,600 receiving yards.

Expect Aiyuk to be leaving plenty of defenders in the dust at Levi’s Stadium this upcoming season.

Brandon Aiyuk: Five things you should know about 49ers' NFL draft pick

Brandon Aiyuk: Five things you should know about 49ers' NFL draft pick

49ers fans likely have by this point seen a thing or two about No. 25 overall pick Brandon Aiyuk, as the wideout became the second member of San Francisco’s 2020 draft class on Thursday night.

The speedster spent the past two seasons at Arizona State, lighting up PAC-12 defenses with an unmatched ability to run after the catch.

But let’s go a little deeper, with five things you might not know about one of quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo’s new weapons.

[49ERS INSIDER PODCAST: Listen to the latest episode]

Local Connection

Aiyuk is a Reno, Nev. native but played junior college football at Sierra College in Rocklin, just under 140 miles from Levi’s Stadium. An unheralded prospect coming out of Robert McQueen High School, Aiyuk had to prove himself at the junior college level before attending ASU. His athleticism however, always has jumped off the screen.

As he shared on social media following his selection Thursday night, he’s been wearing 49ers gear for a long time.

Stolen Glory

Aiyuk played a part in several momentous upsets during his days in Tempe, but he became a household name in the PAC-12 on Nov. 23, 2019. With his team facing a third-and-16 deep in Sun Devil territory, Aiyuk torched the Oregon Ducks’ secondary and went untouched for an 81-yard touchdown, sealing an upset win at home against the then-No. 6 Ducks.

Oregon and 2020 No. 6 overall pick Justin Herbert were a few wins away from a potential berth in the College Football Playoff, but Aiyuk had other ideas.

Nearly Stolen by Saban

Aiyuk wasn’t a highly touted prospect in junior college football despite his all-conference accolades in California. Holding offers from only a few Power 5 schools -- most of which wanted him to switch over to the defensive side of the ball -- Aiyuk signed with ASU in 2018. But just hours later, Nick Saban and the Alabama Crimson Tide came calling, having had another recruit fall through at the last second.

He stayed true to his word and took his talents to Tempe, but could you imagine a receiving corps with Aiyuk and 2020 first-round picks Henry Ruggs and Jerry Jeudy in Tuscaloosa? That’s a scary thought.

Strong Comparisons

Herm Edwards, Aiyuk’s coach at ASU and a longtime NFL coach and analyst, told 94 WIP in Philadelphia that Aiyuk’s explosiveness reminds him of another wide receiver who made his name in the PAC-12. “He reminds me a little bit of DeSean (Jackson). He’s very explosive that way. He’s a good return guy. (Junior college) guy coming out, so he’s only played two years.”

Former ASU offensive coordinator Rob Likens has another, more unique comparison for Aiyuk. “To me he runs the ball like Walter Payton used to,” Likens said (h/t Sports360AZ). “He wants to finish the run. He’s looking to inflict some physical pain on another human being before he hits the ground and that’s what I love about him.” 

[RELATED: 49ers would've taken Aiyuk at No. 13 if Kinlaw was gone]

That Wingspan

If you haven’t heard, Aiyuk has one of the more unique wingspans from this year’s draft class. Aiyuk stands at just under six feet tall, yet has a wingspan of 6-foot-9. That puts him on par with … Warriors star Klay Thompson, who also measures out with a 6-foot-9 wingspan. Only five other receivers at the 2020 NFL Scouting Combine had at least an 80-inch wingspan like Aiyuk, and none of them were shorter than 6-foot-3.

His lengthy arms should only make it easier for Jimmy G to get the ball to Aiyuk, who was as dangerous as anyone in college football a season ago with the ball in his hands.