SF 49ers vs. Cowboys: 3 best individual performances from Week 15

Dallas Cowboys quarterback Andy Dalton (14) sacked by SF 49ers defensive end Kerry Hyder (92) Mandatory Credit: Tim Heitman-USA TODAY Sports
Dallas Cowboys quarterback Andy Dalton (14) sacked by SF 49ers defensive end Kerry Hyder (92) Mandatory Credit: Tim Heitman-USA TODAY Sports /
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SF 49ers, Brandon Aiyuk
San Francisco 49ers wide receiver Brandon Aiyuk (11) Mandatory Credit: Tim Heitman-USA TODAY Sports /

No. 1: SF 49ers WR Brandon Aiyuk

Another SF 49ers game, another standout performance from rookie receiver Brandon Aiyuk, who has really come alive during the back half of the 2020 NFL season.

He got off to a bit of an inconsistent start, managing just 165 yards on 14 catches through his first five contests, although he did have four rushes for 69 yards and two scores.

San Francisco 49ers
San Francisco 49ers /

San Francisco 49ers

But since exploding onto the scene with a six-reception, 115-yard performance against the New England Patriots in Week 7, Aiyuk has been one of the focal points of an SF 49ers offense that has been missing players like tight end George Kittle, wideout Deebo Samuel, and running back Raheem Mostert for large chunks of that stretch.

Since then and including that New England game, the rookie out of Arizona State has hauled in 45 receptions for 568 yards and four of his five receiving touchdowns, bringing his rookie year totals to 59 receptions for 733 yards to go along with five carries for 69 yards and two additional scores.

Aiyuk is just 195 yards from breaking Jerry Rice’s record for receiving yards by an SF 49ers rookie, meaning he’d need to average just under 100 yards per game to break the record. His 59 receptions are already a team record, breaking Samuel’s record of 57 from last year.

Aiyuk was excellent again on Sunday in Dallas, even as the rest of the offense failed to get going and quarterback Nick Mullens turned the ball over three times in the loss. The receiver’s nine catches led the team and his 73 were second only to Kendrick Bourne’s 86, 49 of which came on the long touchdown at the end of the game.

The scary thing is that Aiyuk, if he plays in the SF 49ers’ final two contests of the season, will have amassed all of these numbers while missing three games and not really becoming a major cog in the offensive scheme until later in the year.

It’ll be incredible to see his production over a full, 16-game season.

We’ve been saying this all season, but imagine what this SF 49ers offense will be able to do with Kittle, Samuel, Mostert, and a now-seasoned Aiyuk on the field next year.

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2020 has been a nightmare season for the SF 49ers, but Aiyuk’s excellent performances, of which he had another on Sunday, should get fans of the Niners dreaming of what’s to come in 2021.