49ers Week 2 overreactions: Brandon Aiyuk next Dante Pettis?

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49ers Week 2 overreactions: Is Aiyuk being handled right? originally appeared on NBC Sports Bayarea

The 49ers do not have a legitimate NFL player on their roster who is healthy and available after two weeks of the regular season.

They might as well have lost back-to-back games on the road against the two worst teams on their schedule.

And, now, because of the trade they made to acquire a quarterback who can’t beat out someone who stands in the way of victories, there is no hope for future seasons, either.

Overreactions? Yes.

But, now, we have your attention for our Week 2 edition of 49ers Overreactions . . . 

Overreactions? Yes.

The reasons for the diminished contribution from Brandon Aiyuk and the reserve status of Trey Sermon are obvious to everyone in the 49ers’ locker room — and everyone around the team.

Other players at the same position groups have been better and more deserving of their roles.

In the case of Aiyuk, if he were immediately elevated into a role above Trent Sherfield from the beginning of the season, that might have caused some issues. Players want the teammates on the field who earn their roles. Neither Aiyuk nor Sermon had a standout camp to prove the team is better with them on the field.

The 49ers need Aiyuk working hard, putting pressure on the defense and becoming a threat on the outside in order for this offense to be as good as it can be. But that’s solely on Aiyuk — and nobody else.

Sherfield’s nickname on the team is “Textbook Trent,” because he does everything the right way and he’s reliable. Aiyuk needs to take notes in order for him to build on what he accomplished as a rookie. Aiyuk is too talented to be the non-factor he was during the 49ers’ first two games of the season.

And let’s not get confused here: On Sunday, Shanahan gave Aiyuk his chances. He was on the field for 38 snaps, second-most among the receivers to Deebo Samuel’s 49 snaps. After that, it becomes a matter of running the routes, making the adjustments and getting open. Garoppolo targeted him just twice. He caught one pass for 6 yards.

As for the part about tight end George Kittle taking a shot at Trey Lance . . . Geez, lighten up.

Kittle took a shot at himself, saying he likes quarterback sneaks because he can’t mess up the play.

He took a shot at Garoppolo, saying he’s glad Garoppolo will finally be sore after a game and feel what it’s like to be “an actual football player.”

Again, he reacted in a way you’d expect from Kittle when he was told that Garoppolo was the team’s leading rusher at halftime. Garoppolo is obviously not the most mobile quarterback in the league, so Kittle made a quip that hit the mark with everyone who heard it and understands the personalities involved.

“I love that,” Kittle said. “Woooo! We have a running quarterback. I love it.”

In conclusion, I think the exact opposite of each of the above reactions.

Overreaction? Yes.

The only similarity I see is that, like Dante Pettis after his rookie season, Aiyuk may have felt as if he had it all figured out as he entered his second NFL season. But that is where the comparisons end.

Pettis did not work hard in the weight room and he never showed the willingness to do all the things that must be done in order to maximize one’s potential.

We will see where Aiyuk takes it from here.

The worst part about the media rules enacted since the beginning of the 2020 season due to COVID-19, is that we really don’t get a chance to be around, observe and get to know the individuals in the locker room. So I am unable to form an opinion with any degree of certainty of whether a guy has the right mindset to succeed.

But it is my impression that Aiyuk is fully capable of being a big-time contributor even when he is not being force-fed the ball, such as last season. His numbers last season were inflated because he was the only legitimate option the 49ers had in the passing game for a good portion of the season.

Overreaction? No, but …

If Aiyuk needs a fire lit under him, getting the message that he has to continue to fight for his spot on the team could be just the thing.

But, let’s get this straight: The 49ers are not going to trade Aiyuk because they still have faith in him.

Also, if you’re looking to trade a first-round pick after just one season, the return price is going to be minimal.

The 49ers really like Jauan Jennings. He reminds a lot of people of Kendrick Bourne. The team believes he has a chance to be even better. But Aiyuk has a higher ceiling. He can still be a star in this league.

Asking about a trade at this point is far too early. Still, it's not a totally irrational suggestion. But the team does not have enough depth at wide receiver to cast aside such a talented young player.

They have not done that with Jalen Hurd, and they are certainly not going to do it with Aiyuk at this point.

Overreaction? No.

Deebo Samuel showed up for training camp in the best shape of his career. And with his style of play, he has to be in great shape because he plays so hard.

Right now, the 49ers do not have a legitimate threat on the other side, so Samuel is clearly the team’s No. 1 option in the passing game.

He leads the league with 282 yards receiving in two games. Obviously, he will not keep up that pace. It’s a long, long season, but he is set up to have a very good season if he is able to stay on the field.

Overreaction? Yes.

Jimmy Garoppolo completed 70.9 percent of his passes in the first two games. He averaged 9.2 yards per attempt. He’s also picked up five first downs (including a touchdown) on the ground.

Oh, by the way, the 49ers are 2-0.

That stated, I do think it’s naive to believe the only reason the 49ers traded up to No. 3 to select a quarterback was because of Garoppolo’s history of injuries. Shanahan has to manage the game a different way with Garoppolo. No question.

But Garoppolo is the best quarterback for the 49ers right now.

At some point in the future, the best option will be Trey Lance. But that time is not here, yet.

Overreaction? No.

Rookie cornerback Deommodore Lenoir was beaten for a 91-yard pass against the Eagles. That’s not good, of course. But we’ve all seen so many times when a young player gets toasted, it leads to another bad play and another and another.

Philadelphia thought they could take advantage of him. So the Eagles continued to test Lenoir, and he was up to the challenge.

I like everything I see from Lenoir. It would not surprise me if he is a starter for as long as he plays with the 49ers.

Overreaction? No.

If you’re referring to the run defense, through two games you are not wrong.

The 49ers’ run defense is fifth-worst in the league, as they’ve allowed 5.04 yards per rushing attempt. The pass defense has been very good, though, even with the 91-yard non-scoring pass greatly inflating those numbers.

Defensive tackle Javon Kinlaw should be a key to the team’s interior run defense. They need to keep him healthy. It was surprising that he played as much as he did against Philadelphia. His focus should be playing solely on run downs.

Overreaction? Yes.

Special teams were a huge factor in the 49ers’ Week 2 win.

Kinlaw blocked a field goal, Mitch Wishnowsky was deadly accurate with his punting to pin the Eagles deep in their own territory three times, and Robbie Gould made a 46-yard field goal for a 14-point lead in the fourth quarter.

Overreaction? No and yes.

I had the pleasure of sitting next to my daughter, Jane, a University of New Hampshire freshman, in the press box high above the field in Philadelphia. And, yes, there were a couple of times, I pointed out that I thought Elijah Mitchell left yards on the field with his decision-making on run plays.

Even though she was watching her first NFL game in person, she agreed with me. And that’s all I needed to hear.

So, yes, I believe Mitchell can improve greatly in that area.

That said, 49ers running backs coach Bobby Turner is the best in the business. If Mitchell is starting over Trey Sermon, I am supremely confident in stating that Mitchell should be starting.

Could that change? Of course. And when/if it happens, it will be because Sermon earned it — not because he was selected three rounds before Mitchell in the draft.

Overreaction? No.

I’m not sure about the 49ers owning the best offensive line in the league. And I don’t have the knowledge of going back and comparing this season's O-line to the groups in Shanahan’s past.

But, I do believe, this unit is very good.

RELATED: Source: 49ers signing Jacques Patrick off Bengals practice squad

They will never be able to replace the true game-breaking speed of Raheem Mostert, but they can figure things out to keep on rolling throughout the season — whether it’s with Mitchell, Sermon, Trent Cannon, newly added Jacques Patrick and, later, after JaMycal Hasty and Jeff Wilson return off injured reserve.

Overreaction? No.

Considering the health of the running back room, there is no question in my mind Frank Gore could exit the boxing ring, enter the 49ers’ huddle and average 4.2 yards a carry on Sunday night.

But . . . as difficult as this is to write, Gore, 38, is probably not a good fit for this team right now.

They are looking for a little more explosion and big-play ability with their outside zone scheme. Also, they do not need a running back to come into the organization and be a starter for the remainder of the season. They need someone who can serve as a backup and also pick up the slack with some play on special teams.

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