Kyle Shanahan knows how crucial Brandon Aiyuk is for Brock Purdy

Brandon Aiyuk isn't an expendable player, which is something Kyle Shanahan understands.

San Francisco 49ers wide receiver Brandon Aiyuk (L) and head coach Kyle Shanahan (R)
San Francisco 49ers wide receiver Brandon Aiyuk (L) and head coach Kyle Shanahan (R) / Michael Zagaris/GettyImages

Brandon Aiyuk was Brock Purdy's favorite target in 2023, and Kyle Shanahan is taking that into account with regard to contract extensions.

The San Francisco 49ers are fully aware just how important fifth-year wide receiver Brandon Aiyuk is to the offense.

And it's not just because Aiyuk is good.

Beyond that obvious statement, which highlights the fact that Aiyuk is the Niners' leading receiver over the last two seasons with back-to-back 1,000-yard campaigns, anyone watching San Francisco's games in 2023 can attest to just how he developed a strong rapport with quarterback Brock Purdy, whose own MVP-caliber season was highly contingent on that relationship with Aiyuk.

Aiyuk and the 49ers are currently undergoing contract extension talks, and it hasn't always been pretty with the receiver taking to social media to post some cryptic comments. Yet general manager John Lynch assured reporters that the Niners aren't looking to trade Aiyuk because of any extension standoff.

It's hard to guess how this will end, as the Niners have a track record of extending their best players on lucrative contracts but have also traded star players who have been in similar situations (see defensive tackle DeForest Buckner back in 2020).

If head coach Kyle Shanahan had his way, though, Aiyuk wouldn't be going anywhere anytime soon.

Kyle Shanahan: 'It's hard to be successful at quarterback if you don't have real good receivers'

Shanahan, speaking from the annual NFL owners meeting on Tuesday, was asked about how things were going with Aiyuk.

Typically, Shanahan shies away from contract negotiations, deferring to Lynch and chief contracts negotiator Paraag Marathe. And the head coach again made that point during his conversations with the media (h/t 49ers Webzone):

"You've just got to be patient. You've got to let it play itself out, not get involved in it. And usually when you're in a situation like we are, where you got a real good player who wants to be here, and we want the player to be here extremely bad, too, what I found with us is it doesn't always happen right away. But it's a matter of time before it works out."

Two offseasons ago, San Francisco went through something similar with fellow wide receiver Deebo Samuel, who requested a trade amid an extension standoff of his own.

Despite those challenging circumstances, Samuel and the 49ers ultimately reached an agreement to keep the receiver in the Bay Area.

Keeping Samuel paid off for Purdy, who became the Niners' full-time starter late in 2022.

Now, it's a matter of retaining Aiyuk for the long haul, too, as Shanahan pointed out:

"I mean, it's hard to be successful at quarterback if you don't have real good receivers. So it starts there with Brandon, and I think that's real big for Brock in his future, making sure we got a good group for him going forward."

It wouldn't be shocking to see San Francisco come to an agreement with Aiyuk at some point after the upcoming NFL Draft in April, which reflects upon what Shanahan said regarding being "patient."

Needless to say, there are a lot of developments yet to happen on this front.

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