49ers' reported free-agent interest may foreshadow Brandon Aiyuk's fate

Does the Niners' reported interest in Tyler Boyd suggest they're willing to move on from Brandon Aiyuk amid the latter's contract extension dispute?

Cincinnati Bengals wide receiver Tyler Boyd
Cincinnati Bengals wide receiver Tyler Boyd / Ryan Kang/GettyImages

The 49ers are reportedly interested in free-agent wide receiver Tyler Boyd, and that might indicate what could happen with Brandon Aiyuk.

The San Francisco 49ers are currently at a standoff with star wide receiver Brandon Aiyuk, who is seeking a contract extension that'll likely make him one of the NFL's highest-paid pass-catchers heading into 2024.

According to recent reports, the two sides aren't close to an agreement. And while the Niners have a good track record of rewarding their top stars, there remains a strong possibility that no deal can be reached, especially considering the team's current salary cap situation.

Despite leading San Francisco in receiving yards the last two seasons, Aiyuk could be a trade commodity as he enters the fully guaranteed fifth-year option of the rookie contract signed back when he was selected in Round 1 of the 2020 NFL Draft.

While they're are saying all the right things, including general manager John Lynch assuring reporters there were no trades being discussed, the 49ers would be wise to keep all options open.

According to one report from The Athletic, that's what's happening.

Report: 49ers linked to former Bengals wide receiver Tyler Boyd

It's not likely any Aiyuk extension takes place until after the NFL Draft this month, but a trade could happen prior to the conclusion of Round 1, which kicks off on Thursday, April 25.

Should that happen, a win-now Niners team would need an immediate-impact replacement, and it's possible someone like former Cincinnati Bengals wideout Tyler Boyd could be on the radar.

According to The Athletic's Mark Kaboly, that's the case.

In analyzing whether or not Cincy's chief rival, the Pittsburgh Steelers, would potentially be interested in the 29-year-old Boyd, Kaboly tossed in San Francisco as a team that expressed interest, too:

"I would say that it would be a long shot, at best, that the two sides come together. From what I have been told, Boyd was extremely interested in Pittsburgh at the beginning of the free-agency process, but the offer wasn’t something he was comfortable with. Boyd has at least had preliminary interest from the Chiefs, Chargers, Dolphins, Lions and 49ers. I am pretty sure the ship with the Steelers has sailed."

It's unclear just how much interest the 49ers had in Boyd, and it's possible they were merely making a small inquiry to help determine market costs for the position this offseason.

That might prove useful in knowing where negotiations with Aiyuk could go. Plus, should Aiyuk ultimately not get his extension, which would potentially open up the door to a trade, someone like Boyd could be a modest insurance policy.

Boyd, an eight-year veteran who spent his entire career with Cincinnati thus far, has 6,000 receiving yards and 31 touchdowns, and he also boasted back-to-back 1,000-yard seasons in 2018 and 2019.

Read more from Niner Noise