Kyle Shanahan isn’t the only one on the side of the San Francisco 49ers chiming in on Derek Carr being benched by the Las Vegas Raiders, which was decided ahead of the 49ers’ road game in Sin City for New Year’s Day.
Even leading 49ers wide receiver Brandon Aiyuk had something to say — though this message was more directed toward the Silver and Black’s $140 million wide receiver Davante Adams. As Adams has broken his own silence on the controversial move involving his longtime friend dating back to their Fresno State years, Aiyuk sent out this suggestion to the perennial Pro Bowler: Sit out and “stand with your guy!”
This Instagram reaction from Aiyuk points to the rising receiver suggesting Adams takes a day off on Sunday to be with his quarterback — while Aiyuk and the 49ers aim for their ninth straight victory.
Aiyuk’s Trajectory With 49ers
Aiyuk and the six-time Pro Bowler won’t be on the field squaring off against one another. Aiyuk also is nowhere near the credentials Adams has delivered in his illustrious nine-season career.
Aiyuk, however, has really broken out the last two seasons in the Bay Area.
The 2020 first rounder has gone from being in the doghouse of Shanahan early in the 2021 season to putting together the following accolades:
- Produce career-highs already this season in all three major receiving categories in receptions (65), yards (855) and touchdowns (seven) with two games still left in the regular season.
- Additionally has delivered his longest reception of his career this season — a 54-yarder that came in the Christmas Eve 37-20 win over the Washington Commanders.
- After Halloween 2021, Aiyuk has now produced a total of 13 games of catching five passes or more in his last 28 contests.
And Aiyuk has produced those marks having played with three different quarterbacks — from Jimmy Garoppolo, to Trey Lance for four games and currently, Brock Purdy. But what kind of matchups do the Raiders present for Aiyuk?
Aiyuk & 49ers Set to Face Depleted Defense
For a run-based 49ers attack, the signs are already there that Aiyuk and the 49ers offense are in for a less challenging day in the office.
The Raiders are already without edge rusher Chandler Jones with a elbow injury and linebacker Denzel Perryman with a hip ailment. Both were officially placed on injured reserve on Wednesday, December 28. But now, the Raiders are one less a cornerback who was likely to be assigned to Aiyuk.
Veteran Rock Ya-Sin, who was one of the key 2022 offseason additions for the Raiders, became the latest to get placed on IR on Thursday with a knee injury. Ya-Sin was part of the trade deal with the Indianapolis Colts that sent Yannick Ngakoue to Indy in exchange for the CB. Per Pro Football Focus, Ya-Sin surrendered the fewest average receiving yards his side among Raider cornerbacks who played in more than 10 games with 10.4.
It’s likely Nate Hobbs will be the one tasked to cover Aiyuk. However, noted by Raiders insider for The Athletic Tashan Reed on Christmas Eve, Hobbs “didn’t look like himself” against the Pittsburgh Steelers on Saturday, December 24 in his return from injury.
Amik Robertson can also get his turns taking on Aiyuk. While Robertson has delivered a career-best seven pass deflections and has proven to be valuable in press coverage, he’s still tied for the most touchdowns surrendered his side on the Raiders with four by PFF.
Even if Adams doesn’t accept Aiyuk’s message, the 49ers and the 24-year-old wideout are still favored over a suddenly reworked Raiders team.