Brandon Aiyuk earned Rookie of the Week honors for his performance against the New York Giants in Week 3, and the 25th overall pick will likely have a significant role to play in Week 4 as the San Francisco 49ers face the Philadelphia Eagles on Sunday Night Football.
His display was highlighted by a 19-yard rushing touchdown that was markedly similar to the plethora of big plays Deebo Samuel made as a rookie during the Niners' run to the Super Bowl last season.
With Samuel expected to have something of a limited role when he makes his return from a foot fracture on Sunday, Aiyuk may again be relied upon to make an impact out of the backfield.
However, more encouraging than his first NFL score were the plays he made catching the football.
Aiyuk's speed came to the fore in a game that saw the former Arizona State star catch five balls for 70 yards. He demonstrated fluidity in changing direction and the ability to create separation off the line with his footwork.
The timing between he and backup quarterback Nick Mullens – who will again get the start in place of the injured Jimmy Garoppolo – was excellent while Aiyuk also displayed the awareness to find the soft spot in the Giants' zone coverage.
Mullens and Aiyuk look to have quickly built a superb rapport. Though the presence of Samuel and returning All-Pro tight end George Kittle may take away some of his targets, Aiyuk should still play a prominent part in the 49ers' passing game as San Francisco looks to move to 3-1 on the season.
Here, in the latest edition of Niner in Focus, we review the film from Aiyuk's exciting showing against the Giants.
Aiyuk will look to have a similar influence in his first primetime NFL appearance and, facing an Eagles pass defense ranked 23rd in Football Outsiders pass defense DVOA, Week 4 provides an excellent spot for Aiyuk to announce himself on the big stage providing he maintains the level demonstrated in the blowout win over New York.
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