49ers rumors: Niners rebuff teams wanting to trade for Brandon Aiyuk
By Peter Panacy
According to a report from ESPN, multiple teams have asked the 49ers about Brandon Aiyuk, but the Niners aren’t planning on trading him.
At some point in the not-so-distant future, the San Francisco 49ers are going to have to decide between their top two wide receivers, Deebo Samuel and Brandon Aiyuk.
As far as popularity and versatility, Samuel would be the preferred choice. And, following an awkward standoff between Samuel and the Niners that included a trade request, the 2019 second-round NFL Draft pick out of South Carolina ended up getting the contract extension that’ll keep him with San Francisco through 2025.
That was a year ago. Meanwhile, Aiyuk is facing his first potential turning point with the franchise that drafted him in Round 1 back in 2020 out of Arizona State.
The coveted fifth-year option for former first-round draft picks.
Other teams are rumored to want Brandon Aiyuk in a trade with 49ers
It’s hard to say where the phone calls started. Perhaps Aiyuk voiced some frustration with his role on the Niners, complaining about being a fourth option behind Samuel, tight end George Kittle and running back Christian McCaffrey and in a run-first offense.
But, if that was the case, Aiyuk leading San Francisco in targets (114), receptions (78) and receiving yards (1,015) would suggest otherwise.
Related Story: Is Brandon Aiyuk pissed off at Kyle Shanahan, 49ers?
Either way, a report from ESPN’s Nick Wagoner suggested that other teams were looking to acquire Aiyuk from the 49ers via trade:
However, speaking from the annual owners meetings, general manager John Lynch responded by saying the team would likely pick up Aiyuk’s fully guaranteed fifth-year option for 2024, and the decision to do so would have to be no later than right after this year’s NFL Draft.
If the Niners elected not to pick up the option, Aiyuk would be a free agent in 2024 instead.
It doesn’t appear as if Lynch plans on that happening, though, as transcribed by 49ers Webzone:
"I’d be shocked if we didn’t [pick up the option]. We still have some time. It’s the day after the draft, I believe, we have to make those decisions. And so we’re still discussing, but it probably makes sense to do that for Brandon.He’s a really good player. It’s interesting when you’re at these league functions, ownership meetings, combine, a lot of people ask about him. They really appreciate his game, and they see it ascending. And he’s a guy we’re very fortunate to have, and I think he’s just coming into his own, too."
That doesn’t exactly sound like San Francisco is interested in trading Aiyuk at this point. And while Lynch’s words could be part of the proverbial “smoke and mirrors” campaign to drive up an asking price, one would have to consider the 49ers are in win-now mode and have Aiyuk on his cheap rookie contract.
With Samuel still under contract, though, retaining Aiyuk beyond 2024 will be a notable challenge.
That’s a problem for another day, though.