The Brandon Aiyuk situation has officially entered bizarre territory.
One of the best offensive rookies in football last year, Aiyuk started the season in the doghouse and has not been able to get himself out. Through five games, Aiyuk has just eight catches for 90 yards. He’s been targeted just 15 times. Last week, in a game with George Kittle sidelined, he had two catches.
So what is going on? Aiyuk hinted earlier in the season that improving as a blocker was an emphasis for him, something that played into the notion that Kyle Shanahan demands a certain level of blocking ability for his receivers to see the field.
Yet, five games into a season, it would seem like there has to be something else going that’s keeping the ball out of Aiyuk’s hands.
On Tuesday, 49ers general manager John Lynch explained what that is…sort of. He said that Aiyuk is not where he needs to be and that he hasn’t made the strides they’ve expected him to. Beyond that, there was no further explanation.
“He’s a very talented young man, and a hard worker as well,” Lynch said on KNBR. “We’ve gone to great lengths to try to explain what the predicament is right now, but the bottom line is we each have to find a way, I’m talking we as a team and Brandon as a player, because for us to get where we want to get we need his talents and abilities on the field.
“Having said that, I think you earn your opportunities and you do that during the week. It’s not as if Brandon’s not working hard, it’s that for whatever reason, Brandon has not made the strides we expect him to. We probably hold him to a higher standard because he’s got so much in his body, and it’s important for a team to see people earn those opportunities.
“I think there’s been really good communication of late to try and get that out of him. It’s not as if he’s a guy who doesn’t work hard, I think it’s just everybody getting on the same page. I think he’s got to earn those opportunities, but I feel like it’s really important for him to become a part of what we’re doing moving forward.
“He’s got the makings of not just a starting football player in this league but a very good one at that critical position. So to be able to compliment Deebo (Samuel), with George out for right now, we need that explosiveness in our offense. And that starts this week. Everyday it’s important we figure that out.”
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Listen to the full interview below.