The SF 49ers lost in disappointing fashion to the Saints in Week 10, but at least Brandon Aiyuk and others made for some good storylines.
In some ways, it’s a small miracle the shorthanded SF 49ers held their own against a high-powered New Orleans Saints team in Week 10, preventing head coach Sean Payton’s lethal offense from doing the same kind of damage it did to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers a week prior.
Yet the Niners, now 4-6 after falling to the Saints 27-13 last Sunday, still created more problems than solutions en route to the defeat. San Francisco’s run game was wholly ineffective, while special teams proved to be disastrous. Four Niners turnovers, including two muffed punts recovered by New Orleans, proved to be the difference.
Still, there were some exceptional positives from the loss.
Rookie wide receiver Brandon Aiyuk has proven to be a budding star for head coach Kyle Shanahan. Despite having an irregular array of quarterbacks throwing to him, going along with a banged-up pass-catching corps not taking pressure off him, Aiyuk is budding to the point of being a true WR1 candidate.
Meanwhile, defensive tackle Javon Kinlaw is beginning to turn the page as an interior disruptor, showing the sheer stats aren’t always a great reflection of a player’s overall impact.
Let’s take a look at these and other positives to make San Francisco’s Week 10 loss a bit more digestible.
SF 49ers Takeaway No. 4: Brandon Aiyuk’s maturation continues
For a team missing its top two pass-catching weapons, tight end George Kittle (foot) and wide receiver Deebo Samuel (hamstring), one might figure the Saints would have totally clamped down on Aiyuk in Week 10.
In a way, they did. Except Aiyuk managed to be more than just somewhat effective, hauling in a team-best seven receptions for 75 yards and a touchdown.
On one play, Aiyuk managed to haul in a perfectly thrown pass from quarterback Nick Mullens despite having two Saints defenders right behind him in coverage.
The effort from Aiyuk certainly wasn’t lacking, and he is now second only behind Kittle in total receiving yards for San Francisco (446) and now leads the team in receiving touchdowns (three) through 10 weeks.
Incredibly enough, Aiyuk also boasts 173 yards after the catch, showing how much more a weapon he is once he has the ball in his hands.
The SF 49ers can’t wait until they get a fully healthy tandem of Aiyuk and Samuel back into the fray.