Shanahan sees 49ers eternally thanking Aiyuk for highlight catch

Shanahan sees 49ers eternally thanking Aiyuk for highlight catch – NBC Sports Bay Area

Brandon Aiyuk may have caught just three of his eight targets in the 49ers' 34-31 victory over the Detroit Lions in the NFC championship game on Sunday at Levi's Stadium, but Kyle Shanahan knows every reception had a big impact on the game.

All three of Aiyuk's receptions resulted in a first down, and some would argue, including Aiyuk himself, that his most impressive catch should have been ruled a touchdown.

“I didn’t think he would ever recover,” Shanahan said in a conference call. “It seemed like he was yelling at me the whole time to challenge it because he just knew he was scoring, but I was told he wasn't.”

“That's why I didn't do it. I think they ended up touching him, but he ended up scoring three plays later.”

Aiyuk's memorable catch was a 51-yard pass from Brock Purdy that bounced off the helmet of Detroit Lions cornerback Kindle Vildor. The ball flew high into the air, but Aiyuk tracked it down and miraculously retained possession as it landed on the turf.

It was an incredible acrobatic performance, but Shanahan gave his receiver even more credit for recovering from missed opportunities early in the game.

“When we were down in that game and it looked like they were going to run away with it early, Brock made an off-schedule throw and [Aiyuk] “I almost went down with another low catch and missed, and that was a big throw,” Shanahan said.

“For him to come back and fully redeem himself and more, with one of the best catches I have ever seen, in the biggest moments, we will all be eternally grateful throughout our lives.”

Aiyuk is coming off an outstanding season, and while the Arizona State product was snubbed for Pro Bowl honors, the wideout deservedly earned a second-team All-Pro nomination. Shanahan believes that without Aiyuk's performance, the team may not be able to travel to Super Bowl LVIII in Las Vegas.

“[Aiyuk] “I made two great plays on third down last week with two low throws,” Shanahan said. “[We] Without those two games I probably wouldn't have been able to win.

The 49ers will take the next two days off before returning to the practice field on Thursday to prepare for their weeklong visit to Sin City for the biggest NFL game of the year.

Download and follow the 49ers Talk Podcast