Brandon Aiyuk is every quarterback’s go-to guy

SANTA CLARA — Four practices into camp, with four quarterbacks eagerly targeting him, Brandon Aiyuk is undeniably the 49ers’ go-to man.

He might be the only person alive not fretting over who will throw the 49ers’ football this season, even though all signs point to that quarterback being Brock Purdy, who idled Sunday before rejoining Monday’s first full-pads practice.

Aiyuk is unfazed by this camp’s carousel of quarterbacks, and, yes, reporters are grilling coach Kyle Shanahan why No. 4 option Brandon Allen is getting so many snaps when Trey Lance and Sam Darnold sure could use the reps.

Aiyuk’s job, as he sees it in Shanahan’s offense: Be in the right place, at the right time, then make the catch every time.

“We’re steps. We’re timing,” Aiyuk said. “So if I’m getting to my spots, quarterbacks are supposed to put the ball in the exact same spot, whether it’s Brock, whether it’s B.A., it doesn’t really matter. Get to your spot and find the ball.”

Day 1: Aiyuk acrobatically adjusts in mid-air to snare for a Lance pass over Deommodore Lenoir on the sideline.

Day 2: Aiyuk welcomes Purdy and his surgically repaired eblow to practice by catching three balls, including one in a tight squeeze over the middle.

Day 3: He catches two more throws from Purdy, then daringly dives for a potential toe-tap catch on a Purdy pass that clearly is sailing far out of bounds.

Day 4: He acts as Sam Darnold’s muse with four receptions, leading off red-zone drills with a 16-yard grab for camp’s first touchdown catch. That same combination yields the same result three snaps later. Even when Brandon Allen enters shortly thereafter, Aiyuk made a touchdown grab in red-zone action.

All that set the stage for the best receiving showcase of camp, in 11-on-11 action from midfield. Darnold followed Lance in the rotation and, amid a collapsing pocket, immediately sought and found Aiyuk over the middle. Two snaps later, Aiyuk delivered a 50-yard catch-and-run touchdown, by breaking past cornerback A.J. Parker, gracefully hurdling across the goal line, then merrily chucking the football into the fence.

The next play was almost a duplicate, only it was Deebo Samuel making that catch about 5 yards deeper and also racing to the same front, right corner of the end zone.

So, Aiyuk vs. Samuel for WR1 honors? It’s really a misnomer. Aiyuk broke out last season into a 1,000-yard receiver. Samuel is more of a physical beast whose run-after-the-catch ability is unmatched in the NFL. Whatever financial showdown the 49ers face in 2024 to retain both, it’s not a sibling rivalry.

“I watch the way he goes about his business and that motivates me to be better. I’m sure he says the same,” Aiyuk said. “We have each other. … It’s like having a big brother you get to watch do big things and you see where you can take it to, if you do stuff the right way.”

When camp opened, Shanahan raved how “obsessed” Aiyuk had become with football and become a pro, some two years removed from being in the coach’s doghouse. Shanahan expanded on that Sunday, saying how Aiyuk’s offseason included “randomly calling and talking about football” with his coach.

“You could just tell he was excited, with the questions he asked. He was really into it,” Shanahan said.

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