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Three Players Trending Up After Week Five

The 49ers are coming off a sound 37-15 victory against the Panthers. Here are the three players on the Niners who are trending up after Sunday’s game.

49ers Wide Receiver, Brandon Aiyuk

Behind center Jake Brendel, tackle Mike McGlinchey and guard Aaron Banks, there was Brandon Aiyuk. In Week Five, he was fourth on the 49ers in snaps played (at over 90 percent). He is never off the field. In Weeks Two and Three, he saw eight targets. That’s balanced out to four targets in Weeks Four and Five. With his percentage of snaps on the green, his numbers will balance out and could have a breakout game incoming.

He is on the field over ten percent more than Deebo Samuel thus far. Deebo has been peppered with targets (ten more than Aiyuk at 37); however, Brandon has only three fewer receptions. With Brandon Aiyuk’s time on the field and his trusted role, he is not a player trending downward. As this offense continues to settle in, Aiyuk will shine. The Falcons have a bottom-five-ranked pass defense, with 278.2 yards allowed per game, so it’s a prime spot for a wide receiver who won’t be coming off the field much.

49ers Running Back, Jeff Wilson

Seems obvious, but everything is obvious in hindsight. The truth is Wilson’s a bit of a good luck charm for this offense, and he’s coming off his best game of 2022. That checks my box for a player trending up. As Tevin Coleman got some fan attention this last week, he saw a total of eight carries, for 23 yards and a 2.9-yard average. Compare this to Wilson’s 17 carries for 120 yards and a 7.1-yard average. Wilson is the key.

Through five weeks, anytime Jeff Wilson Jr. has received a decent workload (17+ carries), this team has won.

Let’s leave Week One out of the equation, as Mitchell got injured, Trey Lance was the QB, and Deebo split carries with Jeff Wilson in that game (eight and nine carries respectively). In Week Two, we saw Tyson Davis-Price get involved with 14 carries. But he was sitting on a 2.4-yard average and was second to Wilson who had 18 carries and a 4.7-yard average. This was a Seattle team that has been struggling against the run.

In Week Three against the Broncos, a much-improved rushing defense, Wilson saw a team-high 12 carries here. It was not enough for a primary ball carrier in a close game that saw an 11-10 final score. He averaged 6.3 yards per carry in that ugly loss. Week Four he had 18 carries in a win. Week Five, 17 carries in a win. You get the point here. Kyle Shanahan and this offense are highly creative with their offensive line plays. Jeff Wilson fits this 49ers’ scheme. He has some serious top speed and week-to-week upside.

49ers Tight End, George Kittle

Week Five was a tell. In a game where Kittle’s blocking prowess could have been overused, it was not. This team wants to get him out running routes, and not dedicate him to blocking. He had the most receptions on the 49ers in Week Five, with five. This was the second-most targets (six) behind Deebo Samuel’s nine.

The interesting part was that all six of these targets came in the first half (five of the six targets were in the first quarter). This was Kittle’s heaviest workload in the first quarter of any game this season. In the second half however, Carolina adjusted. As George was being lined up and running routes, the ball was just thrown elsewhere because of a heavy dosage of double coverage. What we do know about this 49ers team thus far is that they are phenomenal on their opening drives. These drives set the tone, and Kyle Shanahan does not take these possessions for granted. These drives are well executed and almost scripted from beginning to end.

To see George Kittle get so much involvement early is promising for his future usage. We need to keep in mind that the Panthers were playing without either of their starting safeties in this game. For this reason, it will be nice to see his usage in Week Six before getting too excited. But he is trending in the right direction.

What is exciting about this week’s “Trending Up” players is that we’re seeing three dynamic offensive playmakers make the list. The 49ers are beginning to find their rhythm. Let’s just hope they can survive the Mercedez-Benz Dome turf and stay healthy.



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