Brandon Ayuk holds his own among the 49ers’ offensive lineup – San Francisco 49ers Blog

Santa Clara, Calif. — Even after posting a fourth straight stat streak with at least six receptions and 80 receiving yards, San Francisco 49ers wide receiver Brandon Ayuk couldn’t help but lament the one catch he didn’t make.

Ayuk and the Niners had just defeated the Los Angeles Chargers 22-16 on November 13, and Ayuk performed his role with six catches for 84 yards. But when he got home and watched the movie of the game, it was a third down in the end zone that he couldn’t shake.

With about nine minutes left in the third quarter, Aiyuk lost his defender in perfect breaking fashion and dropped a pass from Jimmy Garoppolo that hit him in the chest.

“On the field, I didn’t know it was a gift, a free gift, wide open,” said Ayuk. “So when I saw the movie, it was even more disgusting. But I was telling my friends and family as they were leaving the hotel that these are the people they love at the end of the season when all is said and done, it always will be like that plus one should have been there.”

While Ayuk missed an easy touchdown, you’ll be hard-pressed to find more missed third-year chances at wide in 2022. Indeed, in a team full of established stars like Debo Samuel, George Keitel and Christian McCaffrey, Ayuk’s emergence has flown under the radar.

Ten games into the season, Aiyuk leads the 49ers in receiving yards (587) and touchdowns (six). In the four-game stretch before the Niners beat the Arizona Cardinals on Monday night, Aiyuk had 27 passes for 330 yards and three touchdowns. And although his streak of at least 80-and-sixes came to an end in Mexico City, Ayuk struggled even further by converting each of his shots into touchdowns.

At his current pace, Aiyuk has a chance at his first receiving season with 1,000 receiving yards and a double-digit touchdown.

“Brandon is having a great year,” Kettle said. “He plays at a high level.”

While Ayuk’s appearance may come as a surprise to some, it wasn’t for anyone who paid attention last season. From Week 8 through the NFC Championship Game, Aiyuk had 56 receptions for 865 yards, averaging 15.5 yards per reception.

The shift came after some heavy love from coach Kyle Shanahan, who emphasized to the receiver the importance of attacking every drill and playing the game the way you like it best. The idea, according to Aiyuk, was that if you establish the right habits daily, they eventually become second nature and translate into the field.

“You can be smarter with him because he has that foundation, he has that stamina to where he was made to go,” Shanahan said. “And for me, that’s how most of the greats are, so they can be perfect in every game.”

Whatever the Niners’ concerns were about Aiyuk holding his end through 2022, he quickly disappeared into the OTAs when, according to his teammates, he emerged bigger, stronger and faster in the offseason program. Ayuk spent much of that time training with quarterback Trey Lance, and the two had an easy chemistry on the coaching field.

At camp, Ayuk was regularly one of the best players on the field, often using his 33.5-inch arms to land volleys that left teammates speechless. Those occasional flashes have turned out to be the norm, resulting in several “wow” captures.

This has only increased Garoppolo’s confidence in Aiyuk, as he is more willing to run into his receiver when he’s well covered because he knows he’s going to win more often.

“It kind of becomes routine, honestly,” Garoppolo said. “His arms are so long that I’m learning his catch radius and how different it is. He had one today in the middle, I held it up high in front of him and he just went and got it. The purpose of the defender position and some is to make you look good as a quarterback, so you love having a guy like that.” “.

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Field Yates breaks down how Brandon Ayuk’s performance may have faltered compared to his performance in Week 11.

In an effort to help Aiyuk get to the next level, Fred Warner challenged him mentally and physically at training camp, never shying away from a fuss in padded drills or colorful verbal exchanges. That eventually turned into a heated battle with Ayuk and Warner battling it out, which led to a brief hiatus in early August training.

“It just comes on its own,” Warner said. “He’s done a great job for us. Every game you see him kind of come close to breaking that big game… He’s just going to keep growing, and I think the sky’s the limit for him.”

And when something goes awry, as it did in that singular moment against the Chargers, Aiyuk has the ability to quickly rinse it off and move on. Shortly after the downfall, he made a 24-yard touchdown catch for San Francisco, dragging a defender with him to get into the end zone. It’s a play Garoppolo says he’s not sure Ayuk would have been out last season.

“I think as the season goes on you will start to feel more comfortable, but I’m just trying to keep getting better,” said Ayuk. “Here’s the thing. I still feel as if throughout the games we’ve played, I’ve left a lot of games out there, so that’s the main thing for me to just try to take every chance and every game I get.”

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