News: 4 days agoSan Francisco head coach Kyle Shanahan said Wednesday that Aiyuk should see more playing time moving forward as long as he stays healthy and regularly participates in practice, David Lombardi of The Athletic reports.
Spin: Shanahan has repeatedly mentioned the missed practice time when asked about Aiyuk splitting snaps with Trent Sherfield in Sunday's 41-33 win over the Lions. Most recently, Aiyuk was out for a couple weeks with a hamstring injury before returning to practice last week as a full participant Wednesday through Friday. It isn't clear if his part-time role Week 1 was planned all along or not, but Aiyuk barely played in the first half (30 percent of snaps) before stepping up to a 60 percent snap share after halftime. While it sounds like he'll play Week 2 at Philadelphia, it isn't clear Aiyuk will reclaim a full-time role. Shanahan seems fond of Sherfield, telling Lombardi that Aiyuk needs to be "a lot better than the guy behind him" if he wants to return to an every-down role. Most fantasy managers took it for granted that Aiyuk was far ahead of Sherfield, but Shanahan said it wasn't a tough decision to give the latter more playing time, according to Eric Branch of the San Francisco Chronicle. In the meantime, receiver Deebo Samuel and tight end George Kittle will be the safest bets to see steady targets in Philadelphia.
ESPN Fantasy Projection: The 2020 49ers' offense was so overwhelmed with injuries that Aiyuk - a rookie - missed four games and still finished first among the team's non-linemen in offensive snaps. Seriously. Aiyuk posted a 60-748-5 receiving line and added 77 yards and two TDs on six carries during 12 active weeks, which was enough for the ninth-most fantasy points among WRs during that span. Aiyuk, who averaged 12.6 targets per game during a five-game stretch late in the season, may see a dip in usage with Deebo Samuel and George Kittle (among others) now healthy, but the 2020 first-round pick certainly looked the part as a rookie. Consider him a WR3 with upside.