Why 49ers have zero interest in trading Brandon Aiyuk (despite rumors)

The Niners don't have their backs up against the wall with regard to Brandon Aiyuk, and both sides understand this.
San Francisco 49ers wide receiver Brandon Aiyuk (11)
San Francisco 49ers wide receiver Brandon Aiyuk (11) / Brett Davis-USA TODAY Sports

The 49ers likely aren't interested in trading Brandon Aiyuk, and he knows it.

On the surface, it appears as if wide receiver Brandon Aiyuk has the San Francisco 49ers where he wants them.

After back-to-back seasons leading the Niners in receiving yards, Aiyuk is due for a new contract extension that could make him among the highest-paid receivers in the league. In the wake of Philadelphia Eagles wideout DeVonta Smith's three-year extension worth up to $75 million, Aiyuk will probably want something in the range of $25 million-plus per year going forward.

Otherwise, he'll...

Well, that's the tough spot. He'll, what?

Aiyuk notably unfollowed San Francisco on social media. And he still has cards he can play, including not attending voluntary offseason workouts such as organized team activities. He can also skip mandatory sessions like training camp, too, following last year's precedent set by defensive end Nick Bosa, who wasn't fined despite not attending until his own lucrative extension was signed.

The receiver can also request a trade, like fellow wideout Deebo Samuel did two years ago.

But Samuel's request was denied. The 49ers didn't have to trade him, and Samuel ultimately received his extension but also had a notably down year the following season.

Perhaps this is why the rumored Aiyuk trade request was subsequently shot down by his agent not long after the news went live. Aiyuk's camp understands a trade request is a hollow threat.

One the Niners don't have to act on.

Why 49ers won't trade Brandon Aiyuk

Of course, there's a price tag on everything. If another team elects to offer up two or three first-round NFL Draft picks, an All-Pro cornerback and an all-expense-paid trip to Tahiti for everyone in the entire organization, San Francisco might consider trading Aiyuk.

But the 49ers know the risks of trading a proven star who's under contract still.

In 2020, they moved Pro Bowl defensive tackle DeForest Buckner to the Indianapolis Colts amid a similar contract situation. In return, the Niners got a first-round pick that was subsequently used on oft-injured defensive tackle Javon Kinlaw, and that transaction ultimately backfired in the end.

Aiyuk is still very much under contract in 2024, and San Francisco has the option of applying a franchise tag on him in 2025, too. Of course, the 49ers don't want a disgruntled Aiyuk suiting up on game day after a heated offseason rife with contempt.

But, aside from a would-be continued hold-out on Aiyuk's part, there's not much else he can do.

He knows it. And the Niners know it, too.

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