How Aiyuk has impressed Jerry Rice early in NFL career


Big things were expected of Brandon Aiyuk when the 49ers drafted him with the No. 25 overall pick in the first round earlier this year.

Aiyuk has had a slow start to his NFL career, but finally broke out Sunday when he hauled in six passes for 115 yards in the 49ers' 33-6 stomping of the New England Patriots at Gillette Stadium.

As the rookie receiver continues to improve each week, he has impressed 49ers legend Jerry Rice.

"I think it's all phases," RIce told 95.7 The Game's "The Morning Roast." "He can run by you, he can run good routes, he can out jump you. When you got a player like that, you just have to continue giving him opportunities and Kyle Shanahan is doing that."

Rice was impressed with the 49ers' 33-6 destruction of the Patriots on Sunday, the largest home loss of Bill Belichick's tenure in New England. That win showed Rice that the once-struggling 49ers are finally figuring things out. Just in the nick of time.

"Everything centers around [quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo]," Rice explained. "If Jimmy G goes, I think the 49ers will continue to go and they'll only continue to get better. We're 4-3 right now. We're not in the position we wanted to be in, but just to see this team fight it's very motivating to see this happen the way it's happening right now. For Bill Belichick to be confused like that and also I was looking at Cam Newton -- he had this look on his face like, 'Is this 49ers team a bad team? They don't look like a bad team.' I felt like we played very well, executed the way we wanted to and now we just got to keep building off this momentum."

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At 4-3, the 49ers now find themselves in the thick of the playoff picture. A Week 8 win over the Seattle Seahawks and their porous defense would vault the 49ers back into true contention for the NFC West title.

The 49ers' impressive win over the Patriots did come at a cost, though. Running back Jeff Wilson left the game with an ankle injury and Deebo Samuel had to exit with a hamstring ailment. While the 49ers are hopeful that Samuel's injury isn't serious, there is the possibility that he could miss some time.

If Samuel goes back on the shelf, it will be up to Aiyuk and tight end George Kittle to carry the load in the passing game until Samuel can return.

That's something Aiyuk showed he's more than capable of.

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