Brandon Aiyuk didn’t see a single target in the 49ers’ Week 1 win over the Detroit Lions, and his head coach Kyle Shanahan spoke candidly about how Trent Sherfield had earned more snaps than Aiyuk throughout training camp. He only ended up logging a single catch in the 49ers’ Week 2 win over the Philadelphia Eagles, but it was a critical one that moved the chains late in the third quarter.
The catch helped extend what ended up being a 16-play drive that put the 49ers ahead 17-3 with a Jimmy Garoppolo quarterback sneak.
A former first-round pick, Aiyuk was the 49ers’ leading receiver in 2020, finishing with 748 yards and five touchdowns in his rookie season. But he has been utilized significantly less so far in his second NFL season.
Aiyuk saw 47 percent of the offensive snaps in Week 1 and saw a slight uptick in Week 2. Sherfield got 27 snaps to Aiyuk’s 26 against the Lions, and Aiyuk earned 38 snaps in Week 2 compared to Sherfield’s 24.
A hamstring issue limited Aiyuk’s training camp activity and Sherfield was one of the biggest breakthrough performers across training camp and the 49ers’ preseason games.
Shanahan wants to see Aiyuk reach his full potential and earn his starting role in the offense, and Sunday’s win was a step in the right direction for the Arizona State product.
He’ll get his first chance to perform in front of the home crowd in Week 3 when the 49ers take on the Green Bay Packers from Levi’s Stadium.