49ers

Shanahan firmly clarifies Aiyuk's situation with 49ers

49ers
Brandon Aiyuk

Brandon Aiyuk getting zero targets Sunday in the 49ers' Week 1 win over the Detroit Lions put a lot of people into a panic.

The No. 25 overall pick in the 2020 NFL Draft was expected to take a leap in Year 2, but instead, he split snaps with Trent Sherfield and was not a factor in the passing game in Week 1.

That led to a massive overreaction, with everyone assuming that Aiyuk was in coach Kyle Shanahan's doghouse. Shanahan initially pointed to Aiyuk's hamstring as a reason for his limited playing time, but then later pointed to Sherfield's emergence in camp as a reason Aiyuk would have to work harder to reclaim his full role.

Shanahan firmly clarified where Aiyuk stands Friday in an interview with KNBR's "Murph and Mac."

"No. It's not a doghouse. It's just a pretty simple thing," Shanahan said. "Trent Sherfield has played at a very high level every single day for the entire training camp. Aiyuk got off to a little bit of a slow start, and Trent was playing very well. Then when Aiyuk started to catch him, and, to me, was about to go by him, which was going to be the third preseason game, where I think you guys would have seen that, and he would have got that spot completely back, he tweaked his hamstring.

"And then he has about 10 days off, and his first practice was Wednesday before the Detroit game. So we planned on going into that completely rotating them and giving Trent the spot. One, because Aiyuk hadn't played a lot of football coming off the injury, and two, because Trent Sherfield earned it. And it was nothing more than that."

 
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So, will Aiyuk regain his full-time starting role? Shanahan wants him to earn it.

"And we went in planning to rotate, and that's what they did," Shanahan said. "I think it was 29 plays and 25 plays. But yeah, you get a big reaction over that. And that's tough always on Brandon and stuff like that, but that's how it's been going. I don't think it will stay that long. I hope it doesn't. I want Aiyuk to get that spot back, but Trent Sherfield doesn't make that easy. He has played at a high level. It's not personal. ... Things are a bigger deal because of fantasy football."

Sherfield has earned his role with the 49ers, and it's clear that Aiyuk will have to elevate his play in order to take it back. But in the doghouse, he is not.

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