Darren Yamashita-USA TODAY Sports

Darren Yamashita-USA TODAY Sports

49ers’ Brandon Aiyuk poised for big games

Chris Beno
Nov 2, 2021 at 3:30 PM--

The San Francisco 49ers offense will receive a huge boost this week with the return of tight end George Kittle in practice. Kittle is returning from a calf injury and could very well play this weekend against the division-rival Arizona Cardinals.

The added threat of having Kittle on the field should open up opportunities for other players. The All-Pro tight end's presence demands a lot of attention from opposing defenses, and players like second-year wide receiver Brandon Aiyuk should be on the receiving end of a lot of targets.

The 49ers' 33-22 victory over the Chicago Bears was Aiyuk's best performance this season. It included big catches and a crucial two-point conversion to give the 49ers a 23-16 lead at the start of the fourth quarter. Aiyuk finished the game with four receptions for 45 receiving yards.

"Aiyuk's strung together a number of really good weeks," head coach Kyle Shanahan said on Monday. "And that's what's been encouraging about him. And just last week, doing just what he had done the previous few weeks, I thought he took his game to another level. And not just me, but I thought the players felt it. I thought he felt it.

"And just going into [Sunday], you could feel that it was going to happen. And he was capable of doing a lot more. The game panned out the way it did. But when his number was called, and the coverages took the ball to him, he made some plays."

Aiyuk was the team's leading receiver during his rookie year in 2020, recording 748 receiving yards and five touchdowns. However, he has yet to be a factor in his 2021 sophomore campaign. Through seven games this season, Aiyuk has 13 catches for 141 yards and one touchdown. The receiver has disappeared within the fold of the offense this season. After reports from the 49ers front office stated they had not seen the "strides" they wanted to see from their young receiver, many fans suspected Aiyuk fell into Shanahan's infamous doghouse.

However, the coach praised Aiyuk's efforts on Sunday.

"The play that he made on the third-and-four at the end of the second quarter allowed us to call the next play," Shanahan continued. "The post to [wide receiver Deebo Samuel] that ended up getting us three points and had a chance to get us seven. I thought he made an off-schedule play. I think on second-and-11, he got about 25 yards on it, which led to three points.

"And I thought he blocked his tail off too. Whether he was catching balls or not, I thought he had his best game as a blocker, as a runner, as a punt returner, and as a receiver."

With the offense finding its rhythm on Sunday, Samuel being on track for the 49ers' first 1,000-yard receiving season in nearly ten years, and the return of Kittle, expect Aiyuk to contribute to this team's success in a big way. The 49ers (3-4) have a key stretch of games coming up, facing back-to-back division opponents in the Cardinals (7-1) and Los Angeles Rams (7-1). Those games will be followed by one in Jacksonville against the Jaguars (1-6), and a home game against the Minnesota Vikings (3-4). The 49ers hope to steal at least one game from their division rivals as they begin their uphill climb for a playoff berth.
  • Chris Beno
  • Written by:
    Coming from Elk Grove, California I grew up a Bay Area sports fan. I've been cheering for the 49ers for as long as I can remember. In 2005 I joined the Army when I was 18 and got stationed at Fort Hood, Texas. I just kind of hung around here. I've always enjoyed writing and have typically focused on writing music. I am truly blessed to get to cover the 49ers, and have my articles published on the 49ers Webzone. I didn't realize it was something I wanted to pursue as a career, but am now focused on doing just that. I appreciate all of the Faithful that take the time to read the articles people put out there.
The opinions within this article are those of the writer and, while just as important, are not necessarily those of the site as a whole.


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