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Why 49ers WR Brandon Aiyuk did not have a single target in Week 1 vs. Lions

Deebo Samuel posts 9/189/1 line in Week 1 opener versus the Detroit Lions, while teammate Brandon Aiyuk was held without a single target. The 49ers won 41-33 despite a late-game effort by the Lions to tie up the game.

Brandon Aiyuk #11 of the San Francisco 49ers looks back as he leaves the field in a 15-10 win during a preseason game between the Los Angeles Chargers and the San Francisco 49ers at SoFi Stadium on August 22, 2021 in Inglewood, California. Photo by Harry How/Getty Images

49ers WR Brandon Aiyuk was held without a single target in the team’s season opener versus the Lions in Detroit. Aiyuk was the team’s first-round selection in the 2020 NFL draft led the team in targets, receptions and receiving yards in his rookie season amid a slew of injuries to the offense, including to QB Jimmy Garoppolo, TE George Kittle and fellow wideout Deebo Samuel.

Samuel led the team with 12 targets on the day, reeling in 9 of those for 189 receiving yards and a touchdown. NFL Network’s Michael Florio notes the concerning discrepancy regarding snap counts for Aiyuk, playing just 47% of offensive snaps to Samuel’s 84%.

The bigger question will surround Trent Sherfield. He was targeted three times and finished with two receptions for 23 yards and a touchdown. Following the game, Shanahan was quick to note his strong camp helped him move up the depth chart in Week 1.

Despite this, it may still be too early to throw in the towel. The 49ers did manage plenty of big plays, managing 12 more offensive yards than the Lions despite 29 fewer offensive plays. Aiyuk ranked second among 2020 rookie WRs in receiving grade on the season by PFF.