The San Francisco 49ers had a big passing game last week against the Detroit Lions, but wide receiver Brandon Aiyuk was quieter than expected. He played 26 snaps, which was the third most among 49ers receivers behind Deebo Samuel (46) and Trent Sherfield (27). However, even playing nearly half the snaps, Aiyuk was not targeted once and only had one touch with a seven-yard punt return.
There was speculation that he had fallen into head coach Kyle Shanahan’s doghouse, but the 49ers coach refuted that on Friday. In a regular radio appearance, he said it was related to a hamstring injury he suffered in the team’s final preseason game.
Kyle on Aiyuk: "No, it's not a doghouse. He would've got his spot completely back; tweaked his hamstring before 3rd preseason game. Planned on rotating him; we did. and you get a big reaction to that; It's not personal...things are a bigger deal b/c of fantasy football (laughs)"— Brian Murphy (@knbrmurph) September 17, 2021
Previously, Shanahan had suggested that Aiyuk had not been sufficiently better than Sherfield to earn a bigger role in Week 1.
“I know this all seems we’re punishing Aiyuk because Trent got even reps with him or we rotated those guys,” Shanahan said. “I’m not going to sit here and say he’s got to do, ‘A-B-C’ to get back out there. … If he wants to be out there every single play, he’s got to be a lot better than the guy behind him.”
This would not seem to be a situation where it is 100% the injury, but the injury is keeping Aiyuk from performing to the best of his ability. His fantasy value does take a hit given his poor performance last week. He becomes more of a flex option at best right now, and if you have comparable options, you should probably sit him for the time being. He could explode for a huge performance soon, but given what we saw in Week 1, a cautious approach to him makes sense for the time-being.