SF 49ers Kyle Shanahan on Brandon Aiyuk injury: ‘You get frustrated’

Head coach Kyle Shanahan of the San Francisco 49ers (Photo by Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images)
Head coach Kyle Shanahan of the San Francisco 49ers (Photo by Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images) /

The SF 49ers lost wide receiver Brandon Aiyuk for the rest of training camp, yet Kyle Shanahan is hopeful the rookie’s impact will still be felt early.

It’s no surprise injuries have plagued the SF 49ers a bit more during training camp in 2020 than they otherwise have in previous years, especially considering players didn’t have the benefit of spring workouts due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Without diving into the deep medical specifics, soft-tissue injuries were likely to be seen more frequently as players are now seeing less time to acclimate their bodies to the rigors of a full NFL season.

Unfortunately, Niners rookie wide receiver Brandon Aiyuk was one such player.

Aiyuk went down with an apparent hamstring injury during camp practices over the weekend. On Tuesday, head coach Kyle Shanahan told reporters it was a mild hamstring strain and Aiyuk would be listed as week-to-week.

Considering San Francisco opens up its regular-season campaign against the Arizona Cardinals on Sept. 13, just under three weeks away, the ruling is Aiyuk will essentially miss the remainder of the preseason.

“Yeah, you get frustrated a little bit when it happens, but it’s just happened too much to me that, over your career as a coach, that it’s just part of the game,” Shanahan told reporters on Tuesday. “You can’t sit there and dwell on it. You try to look at, was anything done wrong or anything like that? Not at all. Aiyuk’s been in great shape. He’s working his tail off out there, and sometimes that stuff just happens while you’re going through a training camp. That has been the challenge, just this training camp not being quite as long.”

For starters, Aiyuk had been one of the 49ers’ top performers during camp, alleviating many of the concerns fans and analysts had about the lack of spring workouts — obviously vital for a first-year player’s development, particularly at wide receiver.

On top of that, the Niners have more than a handful of question marks at the position. Second-year pro Deebo Samuel could miss the first few weeks of the season after suffering an offseason foot fracture. Richie James is expected to miss at least the first six weeks with a broken wrist. Second-year wideout Jalen Hurd also tore his ACL during training camp, too.

As such, San Francisco was forced to bring in a plethora of additional wide receivers, including Tavon Austin and Jaron Brown, to round out the 80-man offseason roster.

Kyle Shanahan feels Brandon Aiyuk can still impact the SF 49ers right away

Hamstring injuries are tricky and largely dependent on the grade and severity. Some can be of the season-ending variety, although it’s apparent by Shanahan’s comments Aiyuk’s is relatively minor.

That’s good, for obvious reasons.

Yet Shanahan also understood how crucial it was for the rookie to get as many on-field reps as possible between now and Week 1.

“When you’ve got guys who come in prepared, that gives them a chance when they don’t get all these reps,” Shanahan added. “If Aiyuk didn’t come in the way that he did come in, he’d be screwed now with an injury. That’s what’s been cool about him that he’s given himself a chance to overcome something like this. I think we got pretty good news with it because we thought at first it was a bad pull and it ended up just being a mild one. So, hopefully, it’s only one, two weeks.”

It’s pretty safe to say Aiyuk flashing his skills and abilities earlier in training camp is a big plus for his prospects for a big impact early in 2020.

Next. Winners, losers after first week of 49ers training camp. dark

“He’s going to stay into it mentally and stuff,” Shanahan continued. “But no matter how mentally you stay into it, when you hear in the huddle, and you go out there full speed, it’s a little bit harder. Hopefully, he’ll get some time, probably about 10 days, hopefully, before we get back to Arizona, and we’ll be able to catch him up then.”