Kyle Shanahan says Brandon Aiyuk is ‘obsessed’ with football

Jul 26, 2023, 1:45 PM | Updated: 1:55 pm

Kyle Shanahan; Brandon Aiyuk #11 of the San Francisco 49ers reacts to a missed field goal against t...

LAS VEGAS, NEVADA - JANUARY 01: Brandon Aiyuk #11 of the San Francisco 49ers reacts to a missed field goal against the Las Vegas Raiders during the fourth quarter at Allegiant Stadium on January 01, 2023 in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo by Jeff Bottari/Getty Images)

(Photo by Jeff Bottari/Getty Images)

Day 1 of training camp is usually a bit slow, with players acclimating back into gameday shape in late July. That wasn’t the case for wide receiver Brandon Aiyuk, and coach Kyle Shanahan realized that early in the offseason.

The San Francisco 49ers’ coach spoke about the uber-talented wideout Wednesday after practice, seeing a stark difference in the way he prepares for the season. The former Sierra College standout was a magnet to the ball on Day 1, coming down with catch after catch against the defense. While the talent is only starting to blossom, Shanahan believes it’s his willingness to become a better football player that has made the difference in the last 18 months.

“He’s been obsessed this offseason with football. You can tell he enjoys talking about it, he enjoys preparing for it and he’s truly become a pro and the results I think will keep showing,” Kyle Shanahan told the media Wednesday.

It goes deeper than that for the Arizona State alum, becoming a more vocal leader each day he is in the building. On one play in particular, he high-pointed the football over cornerback Deommodore Lenoir, coming down with it as the corner pressed him. The end result: A stare-down towards the opposition.

Aiyuk made it known that the 2023 season is going to be his. And the reason his coach also believes it, is because of his maturity around the team.

“Just how much more he’s matured as a player each year,” Shanahan explained. “Every year he’s gotten better. Brandon came in with a lot of talent. He only had two years in college, coming from [junior college] and stuff… So he’s always been trying to catch back each year. He’s done so much better and last year I thought was the best year he’s had.”

San Francisco is known for having a semi-hostile competition between the DBs and WRs on the practice field, with both sides jawing at one another Wednesday. Shanahan said he doesn’t mind it one bit, as he’s more concerned that the team is taking the right steps to grow each day.

If that comes with a little animosity to one-up the other, so be it.

“I mean, that’s usually what people do in sports and makes all the more fun and those guys are tight and competitive,” Shanahan said. “Just as long as they’re doing their jobs out there [and] it doesn’t take away from getting better.”

Aside from Aiyuk, Shanahan also noticed a few other standouts over the offseason, including former first-round pick Javon Kinlaw.

The South Carolina alum has been on & off the field the last two seasons, dealing with a torn ACL sustained in the 2021 season. Entering 2023, Kinlaw has to be on the field if he wants to remain with the Red & Gold. So far, the big man is doing all the necessary steps to take a leap in his fourth NFL season.

“Kinlaw has been unbelievable,” Kyle Shanahan exclaimed. “Just the fact that he’s got a full year with no setbacks. We’ll get through OTAs with that, and our 40 days away continued [with not setbacks]. As that happens, he just keeps looking better and better. Everyone knows the specimen that he is so now it’s, hopefully, that he continues to train and tie that to football. If he can do that and stay healthy, with the way he’s worked and the way his talent is and his mindset. It’s only a matter of time for him.”

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