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Brandon Aiyuk has been the 49ers most reliable target on 3rd down

Let’s hope the team can carry that consistency over into the second half

San Francisco 49ers v Los Angeles Rams Photo by Michael Zagaris/San Francisco 49ers/Getty Images

At the midway point in the 2022 NFL season, the 49ers currently rank 8th in the NFL in third down conversion rate on offense. Despite a slow start to the season that included an abysmal showing in week 3 when they went 1/10 on third down in Denver, the 49ers have managed to climb back into the top ten on the most important down in the sport.

What exactly has been the catalyst for this resurgence on third down over the last few weeks? Look no further than Brandon Aiyuk, who has been far and away the 49ers' most reliable target when they need to move the sticks.

This has been especially true when the 49ers are way behind the sticks in third and long this season. In situations where the 49ers' offense is facing 3rd & 7 or more, Aiyuk has recorded four receptions for a first down, which is the third most among all wide receivers in the NFL this season.

Aiyuk has recorded 23 receptions that have gone for a first down this season, which is nine more than the next closest player on the 49ers. Aiyuk has also recorded multiple receptions for a first down in seven of the eight games the 49ers have played in, with the lone outlier being the monsoon in Chicago in their week one loss to the Bears.

The production has ramped up even more over the last few weeks, with Aiyuk averaging four receptions for a first down per game over his last three games. Over that same span, Aiyuk has eclipsed at least six receptions and 80 receiving yards in each of those contests.

We are in the midst of the best football of Aiyuk’s young career right now, and he has clearly established himself as a trustworthy outlet for Jimmy Garoppolo when the chips are down, and the 49ers need a big play to sustain a drive.