Tim Heitman-USA TODAY Sports

Tim Heitman-USA TODAY Sports


Kyle Shanahan: 49ers’ Brandon Aiyuk needs ‘to be a lot better’ than Trent Sherfield to earn more playing time

Rohan Chakravarthi
Sep 15, 2021 at 11:15 AM--



The 49ers have a conundrum on their hands. At least it seems so, with the constant hesitancy around Brandon Aiyuk from head coach Kyle Shanahan.

Brandon Aiyuk was the 49ers' promising 1st-round pick from just a year ago, catching sixty passes for 748 yards and seven combined touchdowns while starting only 11 games, being an explosive piece in both the run and pass game.

However, this past Sunday, when the 49ers opened their season against the Detroit Lions, Aiyuk was not involved in either aspect, catching no passes and getting no rushes, which raised eyes about the 49ers' offensive game plan.

While Aiyuk nursed a hamstring injury throughout the offseason, there was optimism that the second-year receiver would return and play a prominent role as the regular season began.

Aiyuk had 26 offensive snaps, compared to Trent Sherfield's 27, but was not involved during the plays he was in, while Sherfield had two catches for 23 yards and a touchdown from Trey Lance on three targets.

Kyle Shanahan attributed the lack of involvement for Aiyuk to the hamstring injury and the emergence and consistency of WR Trent Sherfield, who signed in the offseason.

"[Aiyuk didn't totally take his foot off the gas pedal]," Shanahan responded. "Any time that you do have a setback with a hamstring, and you have a guy behind you, playing as well as Trent's played -- I know Trent wasn't a first-round draft pick [like Aiyuk] and stuff, so that might not be as obvious with the talent level and stuff, but he's been a hell of a football player since he's been here."

Sherfield played for the Arizona Cardinals over the last three seasons and could never really set his footing after a somewhat promising rookie season. As for Aiyuk, Shanahan felt it was most fair that Sherfield got the opportunity based on his play and Aiyuk's inconsistency.

"Aiyuk's been a little inconsistent because he's been in and out with his injury and stuff. That's what we felt was the best chance for us [last] week. Aiyuk's still got a chance to that spot up and not rotate as much. Trent just doesn't make that very easy. So these three days are important in practice, how we balance out our game plan, we balance out our routes."

However, the head coach did provide optimism for the second-year receiver in his lengthy presser Wednesday.

"I'm happy with Aiyuk. It's nothing against Aiyuk. I'm just also happy with Trent too. And I think both of them can continue to get better."

While Shanahan didn't point out a place where Aiyuk could specifically improve, he did infer that it was Sherfield's job to lose in a way because of the rapport that the quarterback room has built with the 25-year old over training camp and the preseason.

"I'm not trying to single out any specifics because it's like very player," Shanahan said. "You've got to grow in every single area. And know this is all being like we're punishing Aiyuk or something because Trent got even reps with him, or we rotated those guys. I'm not going to sit here and say he's got to do A, B, and C to get back out there. It's more we've been practicing the last month, and one guy's been there every day, and I think the quarterback's got a lot of confidence in him. I do. ... But yeah, if he wants to be out there every single play, he's got to be a lot better than the guy behind him."

Aiyuk will certainly get an opportunity as the punt returner, as he was the No. 1 returner on the depth chart for the first game. Still, he needs to show more consistency with his injury in practice to see more involvement on gamedays.

Related News







More San Francisco 49ers News



Shanahan: Injury issues and Trent Sherfield's emergence led to lack of time for 49ers WR Brandon Aiyuk vs Lions

By Kirk Larrabee
Sep 12

Brandon Aiyuk's lack of playing time at wide receiver was one of the biggest surprises for the 49ers in their 41-33 Week 1 win over the Detroit Lions, and it may or may not continue to be an issue to keep an eye on in the weeks to come. Aiyuk was impressive as a rookie last season (60 receptions for 748 yards and five touchdowns) after being selected in Round 1 of the 2020 NFL Draft out of Arizona State and was thought by many to be a candidate to take an even bigger step this season. But his playing time in the 49ers' season opener was limited as he had zero targets on offense while returning one punt for seven yards. 49ers head coach Kyle Shanahan spoke after the game about Aiyuk's lack of participation, saying that a recent hamstring injury was part of the



Brandon Aiyuk responding well to 49ers' WR competition, says Trent Sherfield

By David Bonilla
Sep 16

There has been a lot of conversation this week surrounding wide receiver Brandon Aiyuk. There were high expectations for the second-year San Francisco 49ers player. However, in the regular-season opener, Aiyuk surprisingly split playing time with new 49ers wideout Trent Sherfield. Head coach Kyle Shanahan has explained that much of that is due to Aiyuk's earlier hamstring injury. That presented Sherfield with an opportunity, and the former Arizona Cardinal took advantage. The 49ers' offensive coordinator wanted to dispel any rumors that the young receiver might be in the team's doghouse. "In-house with the 49ers, it's not like he's in the doghouse at all or anything,"



Kyle Shanahan wants Brandon Aiyuk to earn his spot back, says receiver isn't in 49ers' doghouse

By David Bonilla
Sep 17

San Francisco 49ers head coach Kyle Shanahan joined KNBR's Murph & Mac show this morning and threw cold water on the heated rumors that wide receiver Brandon Aiyuk is in his doghouse. The second-year player had an impressive rookie campaign last season, and high expectations prefaced his sophomore NFL season. In Week 1, Aiyuk split playing time with Trent Sherfield and wasn't targeted against the Detroit Lions. It had nothing to do with the young receiver being in Shanahan's doghouse, though. The coach wanted to dispel those rumors and once again explain Aiyuk's reduced role. "No. It's not a doghouse. It's just a pretty simple thing," Shanahan said. "Trent Sherfield has played at a very high level every single day for the entire training camp. Aiyuk



49ers-Eagles: Kyle Shanahan says Brandon Aiyuk, Trey Sermon had a good week of practice

By David Bonilla
Sep 17

Earlier today, San Francisco 49ers head coach Kyle Shanahan addressed the media speculation that wide receiver Brandon Aiyuk might be in his doghouse. "No. It's not a doghouse," Shanahan said on KNBR before explaining that the second-year receiver's reduced playing time had more to do with him returning from an earlier injury and the emergence of Trent Sherfield. Shanahan fully expects Aiyuk to earn more playing time as the season moves forward. "I want Aiyuk to get that spot back, but Trent Sherfield doesn't make that easy," the coach added. "He has played at a high level. It's not personal. It's just about guys earning spots." After


Featured

Trending News

Share 49ersWebzone