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Shanaplan: How Brandon Aiyuk emerged from the doghouse

Aiyuk had the game he needed Sunday to give the 49ers confidence in him

San Francisco 49ers v Chicago Bears Photo by Michael Zagaris/San Francisco 49ers/Getty Images

If you get your players involved early in the game, they become engaged and stay engaged throughout the game's entirety. What a novel concept. The 49ers threw the ball to Brandon Aiyuk on the second play from scrimmage in Week 8 against the Bears. On one drive, Aiyuk saw three targets in a row.

On Monday, Kyle Shanahan said Aiyuk had his best game as a blocker, runner, punt returner, and receiver. Aiyuk made plays that extended drives on second and third down. Shanahan mentioned how the 49ers use GPS to track how hard they run each play on all of their players. That message got through to Aiyuk as you could see he was going out of his way to sprint to block a defender every play.

It took a while, but Aiyuk has emerged from the doghouse. The video below highlighted how effective Aiyuk’s route running and blocking was against the Bears in Week 8. His effort was consistent from the first through the final snap.

More importantly, Aiyuk’s usage allowed him to get open. Shanahan tends to run “static” routes like curls or “corner stop” routes they call “swirls.” Defenders can sit on those routes. This week was a change that saw Aiyuk running away from defenders. He has the speed to do that against anyone.

Check out the video and how Shanahan went out of his way to get Aiyuk involved:

The final play where Aiyuk was celebrating his block made me smile. That’s when you know guys are having fun. Those are the types of plays that carry over. Aiyuk didn’t light up the stat sheet, but his performance should him, his quarterback, and his play-caller the confidence needed to continue getting Aiyuk involved early and often.

Here’s the full episode of today’s Shanaplan:

Other topics include:

What did the 49ers acquire in Charles Omenihu?

What did the roster moves the 49ers have made tell us about the team?

Why did the Bears have success on offense early in the game?

How Jimmy Garoppolo and the 49ers offense looked different in Week 8

Are the changes on offense sustainable?

What do we expect to see vs. Arizona?

Can the 49ers make the playoffs?

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