Why Richard Sherman can't compare Brandon Aiyuk to NFL greats yet

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Josh Schrock
·3 min read
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Why Sherman thinks it's too early to compare Aiyuk to NFL greats originally appeared on NBC Sports Bayarea

There's no question that Brandon Aiyuk has been impressive during his rookie season with the 49ers.

The Arizona State product is coming off a career game against the Washington Football Team in which he caught 10 passes for 119 yards in the 49ers' Week 14 loss. That performance didn't do much to move the needle for coach Kyle Shanahan, though, as the 49ers have set an extremely high bar for the No. 25 overall pick in the 2020 NFL Draft.

Aiyuk has drawn early comparisons to star receivers like Julio Jones. Richard Sherman, who has spent a decade covering the best in the game, knows what Aiyuk has to do to truly join the ranks of the best receivers in the game.

"It's consistency," Sherman told reporters in a Zoom call Thursday. "The thing about those guys that makes them special is everybody knows the ball is coming to them, everybody knows that they're the guys who are getting the ball and they're still productive. They still have 10 catches for 150 yards and everybody's game-planning for them. Everybody knows all their moves. They know every route they like to run. They're studying them year-in and year-out and they're still productive. So it's hard to really, really gauge that right now."

Aiyuk has dealt with a couple of injuries and a stint on the COVID-19/reserve list which has cost him a few games. He currently is 268 yards from breaking Jerry Rice's rookie record for receiving yards by a rookie. A mark Rice would love to see him shatter.

While Aiyuk still has a long way to go to be the next Julio Jones or Odell Beckham Jr., Sherman has loved what he's seen in Year 1 from the rookie.

"I think he's playing fantastic," Sherman said. "He's having a really good rookie season. I expect him to continue that. I expect him to continue to blossom. But it's always hard to really project based off the first year. But he's having a really great first year. I think he should be celebrated and should be recognized."

RELATED: Schrock's burning questions: Will Jimmy G be 49ers' best 2021 QB option?

Aiyuk was the sixth wide receiver taken in the first round of the 2020 draft. Of those six receivers, only Minnesota Vikings rookie Justin Jefferson has a higher Pro Football Focus grade than Aiyuk this season.

It's evident why the 49ers were so high on Aiyuk and felt the need to move up into the draft to secure him. He's a dynamic receiver who is a load to bring down in the open field. Aiyuk has done almost all of his damage with backup quarterback Nick Mullens under center this season, so it's fair to say bigger things are on the horizon for the 22-year-old.

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