Trey Lance showing chemistry with Brandon Aiyuk is great news for 49ers

Brandon Aiyuk #11 of the San Francisco 49ers (Photo by Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images)
Brandon Aiyuk #11 of the San Francisco 49ers (Photo by Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images) /

For the bulk of 49ers training camp, Trey Lance has regularly relied upon Brandon Aiyuk as a go-to receiving target, and the wide receiver isn’t disappointing.

Way back in the doldrums of the 2022 offseason, Niner Noise pointed out how third-year San Francisco 49ers wide receiver Brandon Aiyuk was poised to be one of the bigger beneficiaries of having soon-to-be-starting quarterback Trey Lance under center.

Aiyuk never truly thrived with the Niners’ former starter, Jimmy Garoppolo, as the receiver’s deep-threat capability and prowess outside the numbers weren’t exactly tailored to Jimmy G’s strengths.

That all should change with Lance, however.

Nearly two full weeks into training camp, Aiyuk is showing his value and reliability to Lance and the rest of head coach Kyle Shanahan’s offense. Perhaps this was aided in the first week because No. 1 wide receiver Deebo Samuel didn’t practice until he finally received his much-awaited contract extension.

Yet that might provide even more benefit in a roundabout way, too.

Brandon Aiyuk has shown Trey Lance, 49ers why he can be a top target

If you were to comb through the bulk of San Francisco’s camp reports, it wouldn’t be hard to find Aiyuk’s name popping up for all the right reasons.

Just take a look at some Twitter reactions over the course of the last few days:

Invariably, you’re probably going to see more of those highlight-reel catches by the former ASU star against tight man coverage, too, such as the one below:

The fact that Aiyuk is doing this against man coverage is important to note. One of the reasons the 49ers drafted Aiyuk in Round 1 two years ago was because of his ability to beat man coverage, a fact not lost when the receiver was instrumental in facing man-based schemes like the one the Niners defeated against the Dallas Cowboys in the Wild Card round last season.

Developing that rapport with Lance now, thereby allowing the quarterback to trust his receiver instead of looking for other targets against zone coverage is an added bonus.

Even if it also has to involve Aiyuk getting a little chippy with some of his fellow teammates, such as linebacker Fred Warner.

Why Brandon Aiyuk’s chemistry is vital for Trey Lance, 49ers offense

As noted earlier, San Francisco was without Samuel for much of the offseason and into the first week of camp, allowing Lance to focus more on jelling with Aiyuk as a primary.

True, Lance has had some difficulty going up what’s been an outstanding 49ers secondary so far in training camp, yet Aiyuk has remained a constant plus and even when Samuel has been worked back into the mix.

This is important, as the 2021 All-Pro is going to draw no shortage of attention from opponents’ top defensive players, likely commanding double coverage in key moments.

Assuming this helps free up Aiyuk to be an even more potent weapon, Lance should feel much more comfortable looking away from Samuel when he has to and going to his secondary read.

As for Aiyuk? Well, he’ll look to build upon what was a strong finish to last year’s campaign in which he started slow but ultimately ended with 826 receiving yards on 56 catches and five touchdowns.

If he’s able to continue his maturation and chemistry with Lance, one should expect those numbers to increase significantly once the regular season hits.

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