Brandon Aiyuk missed his first NFL game since 2020 this past Thursday, sitting out of the 49ers' 30-12 victory over the New York Giants at Levi's Stadium with a shoulder injury.
But the wide receiver's sideline stay gave him a new view of his team's dominance he hadn't considered before.
"It was different, for sure," Aiyuk told reporters Monday. "But it was rocking. It was crazy in there, from a different perspective. So it was definitely different watching, but like always, Levi's was jumping."
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Aiyuk hurt his shoulder against the Los Angeles Rams in Week 2 and, with a quick turnaround to face the Giants, was held out of "Thursday Night Football" action as a precaution. Coach Kyle Shanahan said the day after the game that Aiyuk, who has been an offensive juggernaut this season, might have been able to play had the 49ers' Week 3 game been on Sunday.
Instead, Aiyuk had to watch as his teammates -- particularly, his fellow wideout Deebo Samuel -- balled out against New York. Samuel finished the night catching six of his 12 targets for 129 yards and a touchdown -- plus one impressive 40-yard reception that stupefied the Rams and electrified the stadium.
After the game, Samuel said it felt "weird" without Aiyuk out on the field beside him. But Aiyuk knew the offense would perform, even in his absence.
San Francisco 49ers
"We know what it's going to be. We know what we've got to do week in and week out, whether that's with each other or not," Aiyuk said Monday. "We knew that we were going to need some more from our unit missing somebody, so that's all that was. We already knew we were gong to have to pick it up somewhere."
And pick it up they did. Watching Samuel with the ball in his hands didn't just fire up Levi's Stadium -- it had Aiyuk itching to return.
"It was a little bit different from the sidelines, just because you can feel the energy of the team and the stadium get picked up when a play like that's made," Aiyuk said. "It was super exciting. It got me super excited -- I can't wait to go out there and just make a play because I felt it from a different perspective, so I'm super excited right now."
Aiyuk was back on the practice field Monday and told reporters he would see how the week goes when asked if he'll play against the Arizona Cardinals in Week 4. Samuel, however, sat out with sore ribs.
If Aiyuk does suit up this Sunday, Levi's Stadium might want to prepare for a show.