49ers roster: 3 players who have turned their 2021 campaigns around

Josh Norman #26 of the San Francisco 49ers (Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images)
Josh Norman #26 of the San Francisco 49ers (Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images) /
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Brandon Aiyuk, San Francisco 49ers
San Francisco 49ers wide receiver Brandon Aiyuk (11) Mandatory Credit: Cary Edmondson-USA TODAY Sports /

No. 2: 49ers Wide Receiver Brandon Aiyuk

Early this season, there were rightful calls for the 49ers to feature second-year wide receiver Brandon Aiyuk a lot more than the scant targets he was getting over the first six games.

Even though Kyle Shanahan wouldn’t admit it, Aiyuk was clearly in the head coach’s doghouse, which certainly hindered the Niners’ passing efforts and put an insane amount of pressure on fellow wideout Deebo Samuel to shoulder the load.

Fortunately, Samuel was able to do that. But even his lofty numbers this season weren’t sustainable, even if he’ll easily crest the 1,000-yard plateau long before 2021 comes to a close.

Instead, San Francisco needed to get more from Aiyuk. And over the last four weeks, they have:

Brandon Aiyuk 2021 Games Table (Weeks 8-11)
Rece Rece Rece Rece Rece Rece Rece Fumb
Date Week Tm Opp Result GS Tgt Rec Yds Y/R TD Ctch% Y/Tgt Fmb
2021-10-31 8 SFO @ CHI W 33-22 * 7 4 45 11.25 0 57.1% 6.43 0
2021-11-07 9 SFO ARI L 17-31 * 8 6 89 14.83 1 75.0% 11.13 1
2021-11-15 10 SFO LAR W 31-10 * 4 3 26 8.67 0 75.0% 6.50 0
2021-11-21 11 SFO @ JAX W 30-10 * 7 7 85 12.14 1 100.0% 12.14 0

Provided by Pro-Football-Reference.com
Generated 11/22/2021.

Perhaps no bigger indicator of this was when Aiyuk hauled in all seven of his targets in the 49ers’ one-sided road victory over the Jacksonville Jaguars, turning those into a team-best 85 yards and a touchdown when the Jags were regularly trying to bottle up Samuel’s own pass-catching prowess.

Not surprisingly, the Niners’ best pass-game efforts this year have come when Aiyuk has been a regular contributor, and it’s safe to say the 2020 first-round NFL Draft choice is no longer scuffling at trying to make a serious impact.

He is. It’s showing.