49ers news: 3 things Kyle Shanahan must fix now after loss to Cardinals

Head coach Kyle Shanahan of the San Francisco 49ers (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)
Head coach Kyle Shanahan of the San Francisco 49ers (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images) /
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Brandon Aiyuk, San Francisco 49ers, Arizona Cardinals
San Francisco 49ers wide receiver Brandon Aiyuk (11) Mandatory Credit: Michael Chow-USA TODAY Sports /

No. 2: 49ers need to involve Brandon Aiyuk much, much more

Is second-year wide receiver Brandon Aiyuk in Kyle Shanahan’s doghouse? Is he out of it, or is there a possibility Aiyuk is somewhere in between?

Whatever the case, Aiyuk must be a bigger factor in the offense. Much bigger.

Entering Week 5, Aiyuk had seen 65 percent of the team’s offensive snaps, which is close to what he saw in 2020 after being selected in Round 1 of that year’s NFL Draft. Yet the targets weren’t going Aiyuk’s way, none in Week 1 and only two in Week 2. Last week against the Seattle Seahawks, Aiyuk was targeted just three times, hauling in one of those passes for 15 yards.

Against the Cardinals, Aiyuk had two catches on four targets for 32 yards, the last one being a key 26-yard pickup that helped bail out the Niners from a 2nd-and-25 play.

Shanahan and the offense have frequently looked towards depth receivers like Mohamed Sanu and, at least in this game, Travis Benjamin instead of finding ways to get Aiyuk into playmaking positions.

True, there might be instances where Aiyuk is failing to uncover and get open. But his playmaking skills, speed and prowess are elements that need to be exploited.

Doing so will not only give San Francisco’s quarterbacks, whoever winds up starting from this point onward, a better option to pair with fellow wideout Deebo Samuel, but it will also make the 49ers offense much more potent than it has been.

Shanahan needs to figure out a way to get Aiyuk going no matter what. Otherwise, it’ll be another wasted first-round investment.