San Francisco 49ers wide receiver Brandon Aiyuk has been nothing short of exceptional this season. While his talent has always been apparent, Aiyuk himself may not have fully recognized the extent of his abilities.
In a recent episode of Arik Armstead's "Third and Long" podcast, Armstead, a Sacramento native, hailed Aiyuk as a star in the league. The podcast delved into Aiyuk's background, including his time at Sierra, a Junior College located in Rocklin, California, just a short distance away from Sacramento.
During the conversation, Aiyuk and Armstead shared stories about their college recruitment experiences. Aiyuk revealed that shortly after committing to the University of Alabama, the Crimson Tide expressed interest in having him play as a defensive back. Similarly, Armstead, who played both offense and defense in high school, recounted how Alabama wanted him to play on the offensive line. However, neither player had any intention of leaving California to pursue football in the south.
A memorable moment discussed in the podcast was when Aiyuk scored a touchdown against Deommodore Lenoir during a game between Oregon (Armstead's alma mater) and Arizona State.
Here's an interesting tidbit from the podcast: Aiyuk, standing at 6'0", actually has longer arms than the towering 6'7" Armstead.
Aiyuk went on to share his thoughts on the best receivers in the NFL, his mindset when the ball is in his hands, and when he began to gain confidence in his abilities. According to Aiyuk, he started feeling confident towards the end of last year, and that confidence grew even stronger during the most recent training camp. He credited this newfound confidence to surpassing the 1,000-yard milestone last season and realizing he had even more room for improvement.
Armstead and Aiyuk also discussed the importance of self-care during the break between OTAs and training camp. Aiyuk revealed that he assembled a team of trainers and specialists who helped him stay in top shape during the offseason. Armstead noticed a noticeable difference in Aiyuk's performance at the start of training camp as a result.
Aiyuk's self-assured statement, "I feel like for sure I'm one of them," when discussing the top wideouts in the league, is a testament to his outstanding performance this season. He truly deserves the recognition he is receiving, just like Armstead.
To round off the conversation, Aiyuk listed his top five receivers in the league, including Davante Adams, Cooper Kupp, Stefon Diggs, Deebo Samuel, Ja'Marr Chase, Tee Higgins, and Justin Jefferson.