Brandon Aiyuk, the talented wide receiver for the San Francisco 49ers, was forced to miss his first NFL game since 2020 due to a shoulder injury. The 49ers secured a resounding 30-12 victory over the New York Giants at Levi's Stadium on Thursday, but Aiyuk's absence provided him with a unique perspective on his team's dominance.
Reflecting on the experience, Aiyuk shared with reporters, "It was different, for sure," Aiyuk told reporters Monday. "But it was rocking. It was crazy in there, from a different perspective. So it was definitely different watching, but like always, Levi's was jumping."
Aiyuk sustained a shoulder injury during the Week 2 match against the Los Angeles Rams. With a short turnaround to face the Giants, he was held out of the action on "Thursday Night Football" as a precautionary measure. Coach Kyle Shanahan revealed that Aiyuk, who has been a force on the offensive end this season, could have potentially played if the game had been scheduled for Sunday.
However, Aiyuk had to watch as his teammates, particularly fellow wide receiver Deebo Samuel, put on a show against New York. Samuel had an outstanding performance, catching six out of his twelve targets for 129 yards and a touchdown. Notably, he also executed an impressive 40-yard reception that left the Rams bewildered and the stadium electrified.
Following the game, Samuel admitted that it felt "weird" not having Aiyuk on the field with him. Nevertheless, Aiyuk had faith in his team's ability to perform, even in his absence. He stated, "We know what it's going to be. We know what we've got to do week in and week out, whether that's with each other or not," Aiyuk said Monday. "We knew that we were going to need some more from our unit missing somebody, so that's all that was. We already knew we were gong to have to pick it up somewhere."
Watching Samuel's explosive plays not only ignited the atmosphere at Levi's Stadium but also fueled Aiyuk's desire to return to action. He expressed his excitement, saying, "It was a little bit different from the sidelines, just because you can feel the energy of the team and the stadium get picked up when a play like that's made," Aiyuk said. "It was super exciting. It got me super excited -- I can't wait to go out there and just make a play because I felt it from a different perspective, so I'm super excited right now."
Aiyuk returned to the practice field on Monday, and when asked if he would play against the Arizona Cardinals in Week 4, he stated that he would evaluate how the week progresses. Meanwhile, Samuel was sidelined with sore ribs.
If Aiyuk does take the field this Sunday, Levi's Stadium should prepare for an big return from Aiyuk.