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WR Brandon Aiyuk gives playmaking means, massive blocks to 49ers offense


On Deebo Samuel’s 74-yard catch and run for a rating within the fourth quarter of the San Francisco 49ers’ runaway win over the Seattle Seahawks of their wild-card matchup final week, the South Carolina product had an escort out in entrance. 

Blocking Seahawks cornerback Tariq Woolen 30 yards down the sphere was fellow Niners receiver Brandon Aiyuk.

The 6-foot, 200-pound Aiyuk additionally was one of many first San Francisco gamers to come back to Samuel’s protection when Seattle security Johnathan Abram twisted his foot after a deal with early within the third quarter.

That didn’t go unnoticed by 49ers linebacker Fred Warner, who had a dust-up with Aiyuk throughout coaching camp. 

“I think he’s well-quipped,” mentioned Warner, laughing. “He’s doing a great job. Seriously, I know Brandon doesn’t get a lot of the accolades and probably doesn’t get talked about a lot. But when I watched him block down the field for Deebo when he caught that over route to score a touchdown, like people don’t do that. Receivers don’t do that.

“That’s a big-time, enormous play by him in that second that folks most likely aren’t speaking quite a bit about. Receivers that do this, after which can ice guys off the road and do all that stuff that folks actually discover, that is why I do know he’ll be a big-time participant on this league for a very long time. He does all of the little issues required to play at a big-time degree.” 

Warner went on to say that what makes the 49ers special is the team’s best players play with the most effort, making unselfish plays like blocking downfield to help teammates score.

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Aiyuk, 24, has certainly made a name for himself as one of San Francisco’s top playmakers this season. He was a 1,000-yard receiver for the first time in his three years with the 49ers, totaling 78 receptions for 1,015 yards and eight touchdowns on 114 targets in the regular season.

In the win over Seattle, Aiyuk posted three receptions for 73 yards on five targets, one of the big reasons the 49ers finished with 10 plays of 18-plus yards or more. San Francisco’s 192 yards after catch were second to only the Tampa Bay Buccaneers’ 202 during the NFL wild-card round.

However, Aiyuk lamented one of his five targets that got away, a dropped pass in the back of the end zone after a Brock Purdy scramble. “I owe him one,” Aiyuk mentioned.

“I used to be excited that we had a scramble drill on, and he stored it alive,” Purdy said about the play. “He noticed me scramble — I went left, then got here again proper, after which he ran all the way in which left after which went proper. I used to be completely satisfied that he stored it alive. I used to be like, ‘Dude, that is good.’ And then he was clearly arduous on himself, like, ‘Man, I ought to have caught it. It hit my fingers.’ 

“But it’s all good. I love the dude. He works hard.” 

One motive San Francisco has had a lot success working the ball is due to the blocking of receivers like Aiyuk. A primary instance is Christian McCaffrey’s 68-yard run to the perimeter of Seattle’s protection within the opening quarter. On that play, Aiyuk will get downfield and stalk blocks Seattle security Quandre Diggs, springing McCaffrey for the large run. 

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San Francisco boasts the highest dashing offense among the many playoff groups and produced a 181-yard dashing efficiency towards the Seahawks. In the common season, San Francisco completed with 19 performs of 20-plus yards on the bottom. Only the Cleveland Browns, Buffalo Bills and Chicago Bears had extra.

But what makes the Niners distinctive is that a number of gamers are able to breaking massive working performs, together with McCaffrey, Samuel, Elijah Mitchell and Jordan Mason. That makes it arduous for defenses to sport plan for which gamers will get the ball in sure conditions.

Add to that the willingness for game-changers like Aiyuk to make massive blocks downfield, and it units up for a tricky day for the Cowboys protection within the divisional spherical this weekend (6:30 p.m. ET Sunday on FOX and the FOX Sports app).

According to Next Gen Stats, Dallas allowed 1,575 yards after contact in the course of the common season, seventh-worst within the NFL. Thwarting San Francisco’s means to create massive performs can be on the prime of Cowboys defensive coordinator Dan Quinn’s to-do record heading into Sunday’s matchup. 

And Aiyuk’s means to personal defensive backs within the open area proved a giant deal for the 49ers final week and all year long.

“It always helps when you have length and size,” San Francisco head coach Kyle Shanahan mentioned about Aiyuk. “It’s the mindset of all our guys, though. We do have a lot of good players. What I like to say separates us from other teams with good players is our good players really block, too. Whichever one of our five guys has the ball, the other four are blocking. 

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“And Brandon does that pretty much as good as anybody.”

Eric D. Williams has reported on the NFL for more than a decade, covering the Los Angeles Rams for Sports Illustrated, the Los Angeles Chargers for ESPN and the Seattle Seahawks for the Tacoma News Tribune. Follow him on Twitter at @eric_d_williams.

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