Brandon Aiyuk

49ers WR Aiyuk still blown away by Shanahan's strategic play-calling

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SANTA CLARA — Even after four seasons with the 49ers, Brandon Aiyuk still finds his mind blown by Kyle Shanahan’s offensive scheming. 

In the team's Week 15 win over the Arizona Cardinals, Deebo Samuel had more than 12 yards of separation on his first touchdown of the game in the first quarter. Second-year quarterback Brock Purdy threw a short pass to the left where the defense seemed to have forgotten about the “wide back.”

“Last week, the play Deebo had, we were like, ‘There’s no way they are going to leave him like that.’” Aiyuk told NBC Sports Bay Area. “We just didn’t believe that it was going to happen, and then it definitely did happen.” 

Shanahan had explained to the offense that he saw a tendency in the Cardinals' defense that could be exploited with a little acting by Samuel. Aiyuk added that while at times they might doubt what Shanahan predicts will happen in games, the head coach is almost always correct.

“I think sometimes it will be, ‘Oh wow, I don’t know about that,’ or, ‘OK I see that,” Aiyuk said.  “There’s always that one point in the week where whether you agree or not, on how a certain look might be, or how it might play out, by the time Sunday comes around, there’s only one answer and that’s the way everybody sees it.

“There’s been a couple of times like that in the year where we might be doubtful, and then you get to the game and it shows up. Sometimes it is crazy.” 

Shanahan is known for his detailed film study sessions which can be lengthy, but Aiyuk shared that everyone is paying close attention. The head coach gives his “vision” for each week and then later when they break up into their position groups, they watch again with that mission in mind.

The wide receiver believes the film sessions help the entire team get on the same page heading into each weekly contest. Aiyuk has benefitted from his head coach’s game-planning with 59 receptions for 1,090 yards and six touchdowns through 13 games. 

2023 is Aiyuk’s second consecutive 1,000-yard season and the Arizona State product currently has a league-high 18.5 average yards per reception. The wideout’s success is partly because of the weekly sessions with his head coach.

“It’s fun for sure,” Aiyuk said. “Film sessions are fun, it’s football. We all see football in a similar way so it’s fun to talk about and go through it together.”

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