3 bold predictions for Brandon Aiyuk heading into 2022

San Francisco 49ers wide receiver Brandon Aiyuk (11) Mandatory Credit: Darren Yamashita-USA TODAY Sports
San Francisco 49ers wide receiver Brandon Aiyuk (11) Mandatory Credit: Darren Yamashita-USA TODAY Sports /
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49ers wide receiver Brandon Aiyuk is positioned for a big 2022 season. In this piece, we predict just how big that season may be.

Brandon Aiyuk is a name many Niners fans struggle to hear without wincing a little bit. A first-round NFL Draft pick in 2020, Aiyuk had a strong finish to his rookie year, finishing with 748 receiving yards and five touchdowns. All signs pointed to a great sophomore year in 2021, and then, everything changed.

As the San Francisco 49ers began 2021 offseason programs, rumors began that Aiyuk had found himself in head coach Kyle Shanahan’s “doghouse.”

Anyone who remembers Dante Pettis knew that could be a career-ending place to find oneself.

Shanahan is a former collegiate wide receiver, and therefore is notoriously hard on receivers, drilling them to nail down every last detail of their routes. When a player fails to meet his high standards, he makes it clear, and that was what seemed to happen to Aiyuk a year ago.

Aiyuk just couldn’t seem to do anything right in training camp in 2021, and it showed to start the season. It seemed like another early draft pick had been wasted by the Niners, just like Pettis.

But over the course of the season, Aiyuk proved himself able to withstand being in the doghouse, and he went on to prove himself a legitimate NFL wide receiver, finishing the season with 826 receiving yards and five touchdowns. Aiyuk showed he was able to rise to the high standards Kyle Shanahan had set for him, and he belonged in the NFL.

The 2022 offseason couldn’t have gone more differently for Aiyuk, though.

Aiyuk spent much of the offseason working out with new starting quarterback Trey Lance, and the two have been working well together. In training camp, no name was been mentioned more by 49ers beat writers than Aiyuk. Safety Jimmie Ward pointed out that Aiyuk was “having the best training camp out of everybody on the team” before correcting himself by reminding us Nick Bosa exists.

Regardless, second best to Bosa is nothing to be ashamed of, and Aiyuk is clearly having a very different offseason than he did in 2021. Shanahan is clearly pleased with his receiver’s hard work as well, saying Aiyuk was “developing in all the stuff he needed to do to get better.”

Clearly, Aiyuk has positioned himself for a breakout season in 2022.

With that in mind here are three bold predictions for how the breakout may go.