How 49ers' Trey Lance, Brandon Aiyuk strengthened bond with summer workouts

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How summer workouts helped Aiyuk feel 'connected' to Lance originally appeared on NBC Sports Bayarea

SANTA CLARA -- The connection between a quarterback and his wide receiver is incredibly important.

And while wideout Brandon Aiyuk shares a clear bond with second-year QB Trey Lance, who is set to take over the 49ers offense this season, it didn’t start out that way.

“I guess he said I used to never talk to him. I used to give him dirty looks apparently,” Aiyuk told reporters with a smile after the first practice of training camp on Wednesday. “I don’t know what he’s talking about.”

The pair, Aiyuk heading into his third NFL season and Lance his second, spent a couple of weeks this summer working out together in Southern California. It was the second year they’ve done so and has helped forge a special relationship between them -- one that extends beyond the field.

“... We got to stay in the same house together with a couple other people and just hang out by the fire, talk, really just get to know who he is and him getting to know who I am outside of playing football,” Aiyuk said. “Because that’s really the only time we get to see each other, so being down there a couple weeks and working hard, putting in hours grinding together and then hanging out, just chilling afterwards.

“It’s cool. It’s a great thing. That’s the quarterback. We’ve got to be connected on the field and off.”

From running routes to working on play-action passes, Aiyuk and Lance did everything they could to simulate what training camp would be like and even broke their workouts up into similar three-day blocks.

Lance’s ability to extend the field should keep Aiyuk on his toes this year, he said, as opposed to the offense under Jimmy Garoppolo during the receiver’s first two seasons.

“You just have to be ready on every single play, where in the past where you may not have gotten the ball on certain plays just because you want to get the ball ‘here,’” Aiyuk said. “You have to be ready on any play just because it’s a possibility that you might get the ball, even though we haven’t thrown that ball here or in that spot in years past. He definitely does …

“He makes those safeties back up, get on their pedal fast, and I think that’s great just because it will give us all the underneath stuff that we love to throw as well.”

Lance and Aiyuk showed what they can achieve together on the field last season, although it was just a glimpse. Lance’s second start against the Houston Texans in Week 17 last season saw him connect frequently with Aiyuk, who tallied 94 yards on four catches in the 23-7 win.

Aiyuk said he has seen a more comfortable Lance so far heading into the quarterback’s second season, and noticed a difference after just one day of official practice.

RELATED: Lance looks steady, accurate in 49ers' first practice of camp

“Every time you get in the huddle and then you go away and work, you get better … Each time, you get more and more comfortable just based off not only the work he put in away, but just having some success in the spring and then coming back,” Aiyuk said. “You definitely could hear it from him, the way he’s calling plays, the way he’s commanding the offense.”

With Lance officially named QB1 for the 2022 season, there figures to be a lot more connecting on the field between himself and Aiyuk.

And based on their off-field connection, 49ers fans have plenty to look forward to.

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