A two-week doghouse visit for Brandon Aiyuk looked like it was enough for Kyle Shanahan. In the 49ers’ Week 3 tilt against the Packers, the second-year wideout played 60 of the team’s 70 offensive snaps and trailed only Deebo Samuel (63 snaps) for his position group. In return, Aiyuk found the end zone and caught four passes for 37 yards.
For added optimism, Aiyuk’s snap percentage has increased from 47 percent in Week 1 to 53 percent in Week 2 and to 86 percent in Week 3. Now working as the team’s clear WR2, it’s safe to let Aiyuk exit the fantasy doghouse.
On the flip side, journeyman and Week 1 WR2 Trent Sherfield saw his snaps cut drastically, playing only three offensive snaps and 13 special teams snaps in Week 3.
Brandon Aiyuk 2021 journey:
Week 1: Sheesh
Week 2: Sheesh
Week 3: Scores short TD in front of Jaire Alexander, back to being the second coming of Jerry Rice
— Ian Hartitz (@Ihartitz) September 27, 2021
“I think going into the game, every game, I know what my assignment is and what I have to do,” Aiyuk said on Sunday night.
“I feel like it was no different than any other week just going into the game and worrying about what I can control and nothing different from that.”
Aiyuk led the 49ers in receiving last season when he accumulated 748 yards and 60 receptions in only 12 games. He suffered a hamstring injury early on for the second straight season, which allowed Sherfield to earn the job and develop a rapport with Trey Lance.
Just two weeks ago, Shanahan told team reporters that Aiyuk’s playing time was reduced because he missed several practices at the end of training camp due to a hamstring injury. He also said Sherfield earned the starting spot and subsequent playing time after a strong camp performance.
“We started Trent,” Shanahan said after Week 1. “They’ve been rotating a lot throughout the preseason, but Aiyuk has only been back for a week after he tweaked his hamstring and we want to be smart with that.
“Also, Trent Sherfield has earned the right to be out there more.”
Whatever the true reason was, let’s pray it’s all in Shanahan’s rearview.
The Wolf boosted Aiyuk up his Rest of Season Fantasy Rankings to WR34 (+16 vs ECR).