For a season opening game, there sure was a lot going on for the 49ers. Trey Sermon was a healthy scratch. The offense put up the most first half points in the Kyle Shanahan era. The defense almost lost a 41-17 lead with 6 minutes to go in the game. Elijah Mitchell and Deommodore Lenoir looked great. Injuries. You might not have noticed, however, that Brandon Aiyuk didn’t start at wide receiver, played fewer snaps than Trent Sherfield, and didn’t receive a single target.
After the game, Kyle Shanahan was asked about the situation and at first, he gave a very understandable answer, “We started Trent. They’ve been rotating a lot throughout the preseason, but Aiyuk has only been back for a week after he tweaked his hamstring and we want to be smart with that.”
That makes sense. But then Shanahan added, “Also, Trent Sherfield has earned the right to be out there more.”
That was a surprising comment considering Aiyuk is coming off of a solid rookie season of 748 yards in 12 games last year. Shanahan elaborated later.
“Aiyuk hadn’t gone the last 10 days with his hamstring and Sherfield was pushing as it was. I was planning on them getting a lot in, rotating the both of them and all five guys that were up today. I don’t know how many plays he had, but I’m sure it was less than expected.”
Sherfield had earned the right to be out there more, and had been pushing Aiyuk as it was. That sounds like some tough love from Kyle Shanahan, a tactic he has taken with wide receivers before.
The question is, has Brandon Aiyuk entered Kyle Shanahan’s doghouse? It would be hard to believe given how well he played as a rookie (especially with inconsistent play at quarterback). Still, between Brandon’s trouble staying healthy and inconsistency catching the football this preseason, there could be some work needed to get back into Shanahan’s circle of trust.