Brandon Aiyuk averaged more than 6.5 targets per game this season, including playoffs, but he failed to reach four receptions in each of the 49ers’ past three games.
I don’t expect him to buck the trends in the Super Bowl, because the Chiefs defense presents a brutal matchup.
Steve Spagnuolo’s unit is built on blitzing and man coverage.
Aiyuk struggles against man.
He had a 70.6 percent catch rate against zone coverage this year but just 63.6 percent against man.
If he gets matched up with L’Jarius Sneed, who allowed just a 51.9 percent catch rate this season — a top-20 mark among NFL cornerbacks — Aiyuk really could struggle.
Sneed is tied for third in the NFL in forced incompletions (17) and ninth in pass breakups (10).
I expect Sneed on Aiyuk, as I’d imagine the Chiefs put Trent McDuffie on Deebo Samuel in the slot.
The quarterback throwing the ball to Aiyuk, Brock Purdy, struggles against the blitz.
The Chiefs blitz 32.9 percent of the time, the seventh-highest percentage in the NFL, and Purdy’s completion rate drops about two percentage points against the blitz.
And if the Chiefs get home, that’s bad news for Purdy and Aiyuk, as the second-year passer’s completion rate drops to a measly 54.6 percent under pressure.
Finally, I don’t expect a pass-heavy script from the Niners, which would deflate Aiyuk’s opportunities further.
Betting on the NFL?
The Chiefs are a bottom-five rush defense by DVOA, EPA per play allowed and success rate.
They’re dead last in ESPN’s run-stopping win-rate metric.
The Niners will keep it on the ground, Aiyuk won’t stand a chance against Sneed’s man coverage, and Purdy might not get the ball out under pressure.
I’m betting it will be a tough game for Aiyuk.
The play: Aiyuk Under 4.5 receptions (-125, BetMGM).