So far, it has been a season to forget for second-year wide receiver Brandon Aiyuk.
Aiyuk entered this season with high expectations after a breakout performance in his rookie year. Many believed he and third-year receiver Deebo Samuel would be the top wideouts in the offense, but so far the Arizona State product has yet to earn the trust of coach Kyle Shanahan and the 49ers in year two.
Totaling just nine receptions for 96 yards and one touchdown through six games this season, Aiyuk's situation -- which some might refer to as a being perpetually stuck Shanahan's doghouse -- has yet to improve after another disappearing act in Week 7 against the Indianapolis Colts.
However, there does seem to be light at the end of the tunnel. Maybe.
Shanahan believes Aiyuk is close to returning to where he was in his rookie season and continues to make strides at practice.
“I want Aiyuk to keep getting better," Shanahan told media Wednesday afternoon. "I don't think he's quite back to where he was last year. And I expected him to be better this year than last year. I think he's still trying to get back to that point, which I think he's closer to that point right now than he was a couple of weeks ago because he has been working hard and trying to get there. And if he keeps doing that I believe things will get better for him and us.”
Aiyuk, who gained weight in the offseason in an effort to put on muscle, doesn't appear to look the same as he did last season. Could the added weight be contributing towards his stagnated development?
“Possibly," Shanahan said. "I don't think he quite looks to where he was at last year, so that could be a reason. That's something that's different. I'm sure it's a few things though, but he needs to get there.”
Aiyuk's teammates have spoken out in support of the receiver, and believe he's primed for a bounce-back performance in the second half of the season.
If the 49ers are to make a second-half run at a playoff spot, a return to form from Aiyuk would do wonders for the offense as a whole.