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San Francisco 49ers Need Brandon Aiyuk To Deliver In Deebo Samuel’s Absence

By News Creatives Authors , in Business , at January 1, 1970

The San Francisco 49ers will be without their best offensive player on Sunday for a critical NFC West clash with the Los Angeles Rams after Deebo Samuel was ruled out with a hamstring injury.

San Francisco is hopeful All-Pro wide receiver Samuel will be back after their Week 9 bye.

But the Niners will have to find a way to win without him at SoFi Stadium, which is a difficult challenge given the level of damage Samuel has done as both a pass-catcher and a ball-carrier against the Rams during San Francisco’s seven-game regular-season winning streak over Los Angeles.

However, the Niners still have weapons to enjoy offensive success and the man likely to be the focus of their passing attack is experiencing the strongest season of his young career.

Samuel has received the most targets for the Niners this season with 54, but close behind is Brandon Aiyuk. Trey Lance and Jimmy Garoppolo have thrown to Aiyuk a combined 49 times and he has hauled in 32 of them for a team-high 402 yards and three touchdowns, putting him on pace for just under 1,000 receiving yards in his third season in the NFL.

The advanced metrics also reflect very well on Aiyuk’s performances in 2022. He ranks 13th in Football Outsiders DYAR, which measures total value, and 15th in DVOA, which gauges per-play value. According to nflindex.com, he is 13th in Expected Points Added per play among pass-catchers with at least 50 receiving plays.

He has produced that efficiency through his ability to create separation and rack up yardage after the catch. Per NextGen Stats, Aiyuk is averaging 2.9 yards of separation, level with Davante Adams and half a yard more than Terry McLaurin, and 6.2 yards after catch per reception.

Those traits will be key to his hopes of having an impact versus the Rams, against whom he has consistently delivered significant plays. In the regular season, Aiyuk has averaged 12.1 yards per reception across four games versus Los Angeles, racking up 107 yards on six catches in the Week 18 win that clinched a place in the postseason for the 49ers last season.

With Samuel removed from the equation, the Rams may be able to concentrate more heavily on stopping Aiyuk.

However, 49ers head coach Kyle Shanahan excels at drawing up looks to get him into space and the combination of opponent, increased opportunity because of Samuel’s injury and Aiyuk’s level of play this season puts him in a position to potentially deliver a hugely productive performance in a crucial game for San Francisco.

A Niners win would take them back to 4-4 and give them a 3-0 record in the division and a tiebreaker over the Rams in a tight underwhelming NFC West. Lose and they face having to crawl out of a 3-5 hole after the Week 9 bye. How Aiyuk performs in helping fill the void left by Samuel will go a long way to deciding which situation the Niners find themselves in.


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