49ers

Young can't understand why Shanahan is hardly using Aiyuk

49ers
Brandon Aiyuk

Ask fantasy football owners anywhere. When it came to the 49ers, there was one player this offseason that everyone wanted. And no, it wasn't George Kittle. 

Brandon Aiyuk was supposed to be San Francisco's breakout star. 

It's easy to see why, too. Aiyuk, the No. 25 pick in the 2021 NFL Draft, had a rookie season for the 49ers record books last season. In just 12 games, he finished with 60 receptions for 748 yards and five touchdowns. He also rushed for 77 yards and two more TDs. 

That's what makes it so surprising Aiyuk has one reception for 6 yards through the 49ers' first two games this season. Steve Young joined a long list of people questioning Kyle Shanahan's usage of Aiyuk of when the former 49ers quarterback joined KNBR on Wednesday. 

“He’s a tremendous weapon with the speed, he’s shown such great things,” Young said on the "Steve Young Show." "So what is going on? Why can’t we know?

"I want to know. I want to know what’s happening."

Aiyuk wasn't targeted once in the season-opener, and was targeted just twice in Week 2. Along with his two targets, he was on the field for just 47 percent of the time in Week 1 and 54 percent last week.

As a rookie, Aiyuk was targeted eight times per game and never played less than 71 percent of the 49ers' offensive snaps. He played at least 90 percent of the Niners' offensive snaps in half the games he played. Simply put, the young receiver was a huge part of this team's offense.

 
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Aiyuk showed during the offseason and training camp that he has to continue "learning how to be a pro." But to Young, he believes that Shanahan could handle things differently if he is in fact punishing Aiyuk in a sense.

“You can make your statement to someone in a quarter or half, put him on ice, let him know that it doesn’t work and let them respond," Young said. "This feels like ... what are we doing?

"They’re obviously not going to answer my question, because people have asked it 1,000 times, but there’s no question that Brandon Aiyuk is a big part of any chance they have to get to the Super Bowl.”

Maybe he still can be. For now, however, it appears Aiyuk still has a ways to go.

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