Will 49ers' star player (not the one you think) attend mandatory minicamp?

San Francisco 49ers wide receiver Brandon AIyuk (L) and running back Christian McCaffrey (R)
San Francisco 49ers wide receiver Brandon AIyuk (L) and running back Christian McCaffrey (R) / Michael Owens/GettyImages

It's not likely Brandon Aiyuk will attend mandatory minicamp amid contract extension talks. But will Christian McCaffrey show up?

There's one key difference between organized team activities and mandatory minicamp, and you just saw a hint describing the latter.

Whereas OTAs are completely voluntary, mandatory minicamp is, well... mandatory.

The San Francisco 49ers just wrapped up OTAs last week, but the next phase of their offseason workout program begins on June 4 when mandatory minicamp commences. Players who opt not to attend minicamp can be fined, and no one likes fines.

There were two notable players absent from OTAs, running back Christian McCaffrey and wide receiver Brandon Aiyuk.

Aiyuk's absence was clearly understood, as he's currently awaiting what'll be a lucrative contract extension that could earn him roughly $30 million per season. Until he gets that money, he's not likely to set foot on the field. And, considering he's on the fully guaranteed fifth-year option of his rookie contract, he can't be fined for not attending.

But that's not the player whose absence is of some concern ahead of minicamp.

Will Christian McCaffrey skip mandatory minicamp?

McCaffrey's absence is a bit more puzzling. Already the highest-paid running back in the league at an annual average of $16 million, the reigning Offensive Player of the Year skipping OTAs was a slight shock.

Both head coach Kyle Shanahan and running backs coach Bobby Turner expressed some remorse that McCaffrey wasn't present, but the two coaches offered only vague comments about the tailback's absence.

Is McCaffrey seeking a pay increase of his own, particularly in light of how important a weapon he is to the Niners offense and how short of careers running backs typically have?

Or is it something else? It's hard to say, and there are no concrete reports describing why McCaffrey was absent to begin with.

If McCaffrey shows up to minicamp, it'll likely resolve most unresolved questions. Perhaps the dual-threat weapon merely wanted to take a break from what many veterans view as a doldrum-like period of the offseason, especially after such a high-use 2023 campaign that saw him lead the league in both total yards (2,023) and total touchdowns (21).

Or, possibly, it's something much more concerning.

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