Aiyuk Continues To Show Out: 3 Takeaways From Day 7 of 49ers Training Camp
San Francisco 49ers training camp is back for the second week as the Red & Gold hit the practice field Wednesday morning.
The Bay Area team practiced in front of another packed crowd of faithful but didn’t wear pads today as the team heads into a day off Thursday. Wednesday’s practice was a lot less fiery than the last one as the team chose a lighter install before hitting it hard this weekend.
The big takeaway from today was Brandon Aiyuk’s dominance at the receiver position, continuously torching his teammates with cuts and routes that happened in the blink of an eye. The performance was so eye-opening, that I wrote in my notes: “BA man, what else is there to say.”
A detailed analysis of his big day, plus a few thoughts on Trey Lance’s struggles as we take a look at the takeaways from Day 7 of 49ers training camp.
Offensive MVP: Brandon Aiyuk
Precursor: I attended Arizona State where Aiyuk went to college and had the privilege of being in attendance for his performance against Oregon when he exploded for 161 yards and a touchdown. Sorry if this seems a little biased but that’s how special BA is.
The MVP of the day, hands down, goes to Brandon Aiyuk.
The third-year wideout was on fire Wednesday, making contested catch after contested catch.
The former Sun Devil finished the day with two TDs, one on a nice rollout by Trey Lance, firing a dart to Aiyuk on the sideline before getting both feet down for the score. Charvarius Ward was tight in his coverage but BA was too quick. The other was a crossing route over the middle, beating his initial defender before making a tough snag with Jimmie Ward contesting the ball.
Before that, Aiyuk was dicing up his teammates during 1-on-1s, always a step ahead using his fancy footwork. On one occasion, the former Sun Devil faked a go route to the outside before cutting back on a dime for the slant, leaving the corner completely helpless and wobbly.
#49ers WR’s Deebo Samuel and Brandon Aiyuk pulled up to practice in style 🚲
— OurSF49ers (@OurSf49ers) August 3, 2022
“He’s having the best camp out of everybody on the team, beside [Nick] Bosa. Bosa’s going to be Bosa. BA taking his game to another level. I haven’t won a one-on-one route against him yet,” Jimmie ward said after practice Wednesday.
It’ll be interesting to see how head coach Kyle Shanahan uses Aiyuk’s abilities this season. Personally, he’s looked better than Deebo Samuel thus far, but again it’s only training camp and Deebo is still getting his timing with Lance down.
Regardless, it’s clear the offseason workouts and time spent together have paid dividends for the offensive duo as “BA” looks to be, if anything, a clear Robin to Samuel’s Batman.
Scary times indeed for the Red & Gold.
Lenior and the Defensive Consistency
If there’s one thing the 49ers want to improve on each day, it’s consistency.
“How consistent can you be,” defensive coordinator DeMeco Ryans reiterated Wednesday as the mindset for camp.
So after taking a break from all the picks Tuesday, the defense got back to its’ form and snagged their twelfth pick of camp Wednesday thanks to cornerback Deommodore Lenoir.
Interception #12 of 49ers training camp, surpassing their total from last season’s entire camp at Practice 7.
It was a Deommodore Lenoir pick six — Austin Mack dropped Brock Purdy’s pass and it bounced right into Lenoir’s arms
— David Lombardi (@LombardiHimself) August 3, 2022
One of the biggest standouts on defense Wednesday, number 38 was all over the field, making great plays for his unit. The INT would have been a pick-six in a regular game scenario, and then he made another great play on a pass breakup later in the session.
Currently a backup behind Ward and Emmanuel Moseley, Lenoir could see a lot of time this year if injuries befall the secondary. And that’s alright for Ryans and his team, having full in all of his players, as long as they show consistency each and every day.
“I told the guys it builds trust. So you can go out and perform each and every day at a certain level, the guys around you can trust you. So you have to build that, right, you have to earn it from your teammates by going out and showcasing that each and every day,” Ryans said.
Besides Lenoir, the defense continues to look sharp, forcing holding and false start calls by the offensive line, while also getting after the quarterback often.
Granted, there were no pads today, so the O-Line was a bit compromised as they couldn’t play with the same intensity they did on Tuesday.
Regardless, the defense was still able to attack the QBs without Arik Armstead (injury) and Nick Bosa (maintenance) on the field, showing how deep this team is from bottom to top.
They were one of the elite defenses last season and so far, they look the part again in 2022.
Like every day at practice, all eyes were on Trey Lance once again as the young prospect tries to prove why he was worth the third overall pick in the 2021 NFL draft.
Wednesday didn’t help that case.
The North Dakota State product struggled again against the 49ers’ stout defense, only completing 3 of his 8 pass attempts in my book. For whatever reason, Lance and his receivers weren’t on the same page during 11-on-11s, missing Aiyuk on a deep crossing route that he either completely missed or threw away due to incoming pressure in the pocket.
Light session today.
– Lance not as accurate downfield today. Missed Aiyuk on one. The other two had immediate pressure. Very good in the red zone. Hit his underneath quick throws.
– Lenoir had a great session.
– Aiyuk continues to cook.
— Jason Aponte (@JasonAponte2103) August 3, 2022
The most alarming aspect of the day was his connection with Deebo Samuel, or lack thereof, as those two were not on the same wavelength at all Wednesday.
The pair almost connected on a go route up the sideline (Lance’s best ball of the day) but Samuel uncharacteristically dropped it. Lance tried to replicate the play a few snaps later but Samuel instead cut back underneath on a comeback route as the ball sailed for an incompletion.
The frustration was visible in Deebo’s posture as he slowly jogged back to the team.
A cause for concern? Maybe, but hold your horses.
The timing is going to take some time (see what I did there) between Deebo and Trey as the wideout’s lingering contract extension kept him from really practicing with his new QB during the offseason. Aiyuk has been the favorite target because those two worked together more in the build-up to the season.
The timing will come, trust me.
Additionally, Lance has had to run and evade all week as the 49ers’ defense continues to get after him and his understudies. No pads gave an advantage to a D-Line that didn’t need one, so the positives from today were that Trey used his feet well and stayed calm as he surveyed the field for an open receiver, which doesn’t always happen.
Ward also mentioned Lance’s adjustment to their stout defense, respecting his locker mate’s game and his poker face Wednesday after practice.
— Amiliano “Amil” Fragoso (@AmilianoFragoso) August 3, 2022
“Responding great, has a great attitude…looks us right in the eye, like a man,” Ward stated. “He’s my locker mate so we talk every day. If I get him on a play, he’ll come and ask me a question like ‘what defense was y’all playing in?’ or ‘what made you bit on this route and not go to this area’, we just chop it up like that.”
Ward is the longest-tenured 49er on the roster, having been with the team since draft night in 2014. So if Lance is asking veterans questions like those, the faithful and coaching staff should feel pretty good about his mindset and progression in his first year as the starter.
It all comes in due time.
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