Brandon Aiyuk's rollercoaster 2021 NFL season has been one of the biggest talking points surrounding the 49ers through eight weeks.
The expectations for the 2020 first-round draft pick were incredibly high entering the season, and Aiyuk hasn't come close to meeting them.
But the young wide receiver might finally be turning the corner after a productive Week 8 game against the Chicago Bears in which he set season-highs in catches (four), targets (seven) and receiving yards (45).
Earlier this week, Aiyuk spoke to reporters after 49ers practice and revealed that he and coach Kyle Shanahan "had some words" during a recent meeting.
49ers general manager John Lynch joined KNBR's "Murph and Mac" show Friday morning and was asked about Aiyuk, leading to new details about the conversation the second-year pro had with Shanahan.
"I'm incredibly proud of Brandon because there's been a lot of spotlight on him and what he hasn't been doing," Lynch said. "Kyle and our organization have a high standard for a guy like Brandon because he's got so much in him and we need him. I think sometimes you have to go backwards to go forwards, and I was there at one particular meeting, I think the one Brandon was referencing around the bye week where they had a really good dialogue. I was in there, I was the guy, I kind of felt like Robert Wuhl in "Bull Durham" like 'All right guys.' I'm standing in between them.
"But they both got some things off their chest, but it was very productive and they had an honest conversation and I think that led to Brandon kind of understanding what the frustrations were."
The 49ers had a bye in Week 6, and Deebo Samuel said his running mate had a "great week" of practice leading up to their Week 7 game against the Indianapolis Colts. But Aiyuk caught just one pass for six yards.
Aiyuk kept working and it led to his best game of the season. Now, the hope is that he can continue it Sunday against the Arizona Cardinals at Levi's Stadium.
"The good news is, man, he looked like a different player, the player we expected, against Chicago," Lynch said. "The thing in this league is, you've got to do it every week and so it's a great start. But that's what we expect from Brandon each week. I knew it was coming because he had been doing it on the practice field. I expected it probably against Indy because he had been doing it on the practice field. But he put two great weeks of practice [together] and if he can continue to do that, the sky's the limit."
Lynch is excited to see what Aiyuk does moving forward, and with offensive weapons like George Kittle and Jeff Wilson Jr. getting ready to return to the lineup, that should make things easier for Aiyuk to get open and contribute.
It sounds like the conversation with Shanahan was exactly what Aiyuk needed to turn his season around.