SANTA CLARA — The decline in Christian McCaffrey’s production this season has been consistent with a down streak that has reached 14 games.
McCaffrey isn’t alone in the 49ers’ offense that also consists of high-level offensive playmakers Deebo Samuel, Brandon Aiyuk and George Kittle.
Each of these players is capable of producing big games, but it’s rare for all of them to have that kind of success in the same game.
Even the players don’t know who will put together a good stat line during the week leading up to the game.
“You never know because two weeks ago, in training week, you thought it was George,” Aiyuk said. “It ended up not being George. It ended up being me.”
Yes, in the days leading up to the 49ers’ 35-16 win over the Arizona Cardinals, the ball wasn’t getting to Aiyuk much in practice.
But the way the 49ers’ offense is structured, quarterback Brock Purdy’s progression changes based on whether the defense is playing man coverage or any variation in zone principles.
Aiyuk ended up being targeted six times in the game, catching all six passes for 148 yards, including a season-long 42-yard reception.
Of course, it works the other way too. Aiyuk thought he might have another big game against the Dallas Cowboys. Aiyuk is the 49ers’ top receiver in defeating man coverage, which the Cowboys play at a high rate.
“I was really excited about the game plan,” Aiyuk said. “But it was a little different and it ended up with George. So you don’t really know.
“You’re waiting for your turn to make a play and you’re trying to make all the plays that come your way. We all know it could be any week, and that’s a lot of fun and a lot of excitement because we know that if you keep your head down and do your job, it’s going to come back to you in the end.”
None of the 49ers’ offensive threats seem to mind having a game or two of fewer passes thrown their way. Aiyuk said the close-knit nature of the locker room prevents the type of problems that might arise on other teams.
“I think we’ve all been through a lot of things together — grinding it out together,” Aiyuk said. “We all share similar struggles. It always feels good for yourself when you get your time to get out and do what you want to do.
“So you know what it’s like for your brother to do it too. We feel for each other. We all know we’re in this together.”
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