After a momentary blip which saw them lose three NFL games on the trot, the San Francisco 49ers are back in form with two wins, and wide receiver Brandon Aiyuk‘s first down percentage has a lot to do with that.
The Cameroonian-American was the standout African player in week 11, with the 49ers beating the Tampa Bay Buccaneers 27-14 largely as a result of his 77-yard touchdown and superb overall performance.
African Player of the Week: Brandon Aiyuk (San Francisco 49ers)
Aiyuk was the standout offensive player for the 49ers in their win over the Buccaneers, making a total of five receptions for 156 yards and one spectacular touchdown.
It was the second straight win for the 49ers, and the second straight game in which Aiyuk scored a touchdown, after he also got one in the 34-3 win over the Jacksonville Jaguars.
Of his 43 receptions this season, 38 have been first downs – a stat which gives some insight into how Aiyuk’s catches are usually significantly impactful, and that was certainly the case against the Bucs.
African Moment of the Week: Brandon Aiyuk (San Francisco 49ers)
The game was still in the balance early in the third quarter, with the 49ers holding a 13-7 lead, when Aiyuk peeled off the back of Jamel Dean, perfectly judging the flight of Purdy’s pass and running in behind for the touchdown.
The Bucs tried to fight back in the fourth quarter, but Aiyuk’s touchdown had left them with a mountain too high to climb and ultimately, they were unable to recover.
The 49ers top the NFC West with a record of 7-3 after that win, with Aiyuk well on course to smash his totals from last season – which to date has been his best with 1,015 receiving yards in the regular season. This season, after only nine games, he has 831.
Indeed, the 77-yard touchdown was already his longest catch ever and was the longest touchdown reception in the NFL this season from any player until Khalil Shakir of the Buffalo Bills beat that record just over half an hour later.
The same game saw Nigeria’s Nelson Agholor pull off a 37-yard receiving touchdown, which put his team in front and set them on course to victory, while his compatriots, Nigerian-American Odafe Oweh and Justin Madubuike, each contributed a sack to the cause on defense.
YaYa Diaby, whose parents are from Guinea, is exceeding all expectations in his rookie season after being drafted by the Buccaneers in the third round. The former Louisville linebacker was one of the standout performers in the defeat to the 49ers, although his efforts ultimately did not ensure a victory.
Diaby got two sacks, taking his total for the season to four, which he has amassed in his last three games for the Bucs.
Which NFL Week 11 win was the most impressive?
Booger McFarland and Herm Edwards pick the teams that impressed them the most in Week 11.
Foyesade Oluokun once again led the Jacksonville Jaguars’ defense in their 34-14 win over the Tennessee Titans, getting half a sack. As a unit, the team once again showed their unity on defense and beyond what he contributes in terms of sacks, Oluokun is visibly one of the leaders of the group.
African-born player watch:
Edwards (Monrovia, Liberia) and Agholor (Lagos, Nigeria) were the two standout African-born players this week. Without their impact, the Ravens likely would not have beaten the Bengals.
With quarterback Lamar Jackson in fine form, the Ravens may well be a Super Bowl contender this season and he will need the support of Agholor and Edwards in the run-in.