Brandon Aiyuk is officially out of 49ers doghouse

Brandon Aiyuk #11 of the San Francisco 49ers (Photo by Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images)
Brandon Aiyuk #11 of the San Francisco 49ers (Photo by Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images) /

He might have taken a while to get going, but 49ers wide receiver Brandon Aiyuk is no longer in head coach Kyle Shanahan’s doghouse. At all.

Remember earlier this season when a good portion of the chatter surrounding the San Francisco 49ers focused on just how infrequent head coach Kyle Shanahan was utilizing second-year wide receiver Brandon Aiyuk?

Seems like a while ago, right?

Yes, Aiyuk got off to a slow start. He wasn’t aided by an apparent hamstring injury suffered during training camp, and the suddenly impressive preseason play from fellow wideout Trent Sherfield didn’t help matters either, taking away some of the early looks Aiyuk got.

But for all the chatter Shanahan and general manager John Lynch made about wanting to see more out of the 2020 Round 1 NFL Draft pick out of Arizona State, it sure seems as if Aiyuk has done that and even more.

Brandon Aiyuk made his stamp on 49ers with impressive Week 11 vs. Jaguars

In all seriousness, Aiyuk has been coming on strong over the last few weeks, not just his notable team-leading seven receptions for 85 yards and a touchdown during the Niners’ one-sided win over the Jacksonville Jaguars in Week 11.

While fellow wide receiver Deebo Samuel has been getting the bulk of attention for his exceptional efforts thus far in 2021, the last four weeks have actually revealed Aiyuk making a serious impact in San Francisco’s offense, too:

Brandon Aiyuk 2021 Games Table (Weeks 8-11)
2021-10-318SFO@CHIW 33-22*744511.25057.1%6.430
2021-11-079SFOARIL 17-31*868914.83175.0%11.131
2021-11-1510SFOLARW 31-10*43268.67075.0%6.500
2021-11-2111SFO@JAXW 30-10*778512.141100.0%12.140

Provided by
Generated 11/22/2021.

Samuel was a massive receiving force in three of those four games, including his 171-yard pass-catching performance in Week 8 against the Chicago Bears.

In Week 11, though, the Jags made all efforts to try limiting Samuel’s impact through the air, holding him to just one catch for 15 yards.

The beneficiary? Aiyuk.

A perfect 7-of-7 line on his target shares, along with one of quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo‘s two touchdown throws, tells you Shanahan is no longer holding Aiyuk in the doghouse. Not even close. More importantly, the 49ers are getting the kind of dual-impact production from their top two wide receivers, which will be vital for a 5-5 team to continue its push towards the playoffs.

49ers will need more from Brandon Aiyuk over final stretch of 2021

It’s certainly refreshing to see Brandon Aiyuk come on as of late, now totaling 29 receptions for 341 yards and three touchdowns over 10 games played.

One of the side effects of Samuel’s rapid rise towards being one of the NFL’s leading receivers is that he’ll ultimately command top attention from opponents’ defenses down the stretch. Case in point, Jacksonville limited Samuel through the air, although he was nevertheless capable of making a massive impact on the ground as a rusher, churning out 79 rush yards and a touchdown.

Still, the Niners can’t solely rely on Samuel’s multidimensional abilities alone to spark the offense, and players like Aiyuk are going to have to take some of the load off Samuel from being asked to do too much.

Read More: Biggest studs (and duds) from 49ers’ lopsided win over Jaguars

Particularly with some must-win games remaining on the schedule, such as Week 12 when San Francisco hosts another team, the 5-5 Minnesota Vikings, where postseason implications are definitely on the line.

Interestingly enough, though, the 49ers’ recent hot streak of having won three of their last four games has paralleled Aiyuk’s resurgence.

It’s not the only factor. But it’s surely been a part of the equation.

If the Niners want to continue their upward trend, Aiyuk will have to do much of the same, too.

Next. Top 6 wide receiver duos in 49ers franchise history. dark