Reasons why trading Brandon Aiyuk would make sense for 49ers

While the Niners are likely to keep Brandon Aiyuk, there are reasons why trading him this offseason would make sense.
San Francisco 49ers wide receiver Brandon Aiyuk (11)
San Francisco 49ers wide receiver Brandon Aiyuk (11) / Daniel Bartel-USA TODAY Sports

In the off chance the 49ers end up trading Brandon Aiyuk this offseason, the justification would likely be one of these reasons.

Full disclaimer: I don't think the San Francisco 49ers will trade wide receiver Brandon Aiyuk this offseason, nor do I think they should.

However, the 2020 trade of Pro Bowl defensive tackle DeForest Buckner was preceded by similar sentiments, and yet the deal ultimately went down for what were understandable reasons at the time.

Should the Niners ultimately decide to trade Aiyuk after failing to reach an agreement on what'll be a hefty contract extension, they'd likely justify it because of some very understandable reasons.

Let's dive into those here.

Why a Brandon Aiyuk trade would make sense for 49ers

Aiyuk has a demonstrated chemistry with quarterback Brock Purdy, evidenced by the fact the former led San Francisco in receiving yards the last two seasons. It would be tough to derail that relationship as it's just beginning to flourish.

Yet the 49ers know they can't afford to pay every single superstar on their roster after mostly doing so already in recent seasons. With Purdy awaiting a deal that could make him one of the highest-paid players in the league, the Niners must cut costs elsewhere.

In a sense, San Francisco might be pressed into a decision between keeping Aiyuk or keeping the duo of tight end George Kittle and fellow wide receiver Deebo Samuel in 2025 and beyond. In retaining the former, the chances of both Samuel and Kittle hanging around is awfully slim once Purdy receives his extension.

The 49ers have no doubt prepared and budgeted for this. But, it's feasible that Aiyuk asks for way more than what the Niners are comfortable paying, especially in light of the recent wide receiver market seeing a spike in value.

But there are other reasons, too, why San Francisco could entertain an Aiyuk trade.

Despite Aiyuk's rise to prominence and the maturation of Purdy, the 49ers are still very much a run-first team under head coach Kyle Shanahan, boasting the best running back in the game, Christian McCaffrey, who led the Niners in total yards from scrimmage with 2,023 last season.

If parting ways with Aiyuk ultimately translated into San Francisco significantly beefing up the offensive line to make McCaffrey's effectiveness that much more potent, it'd likely be an understandable move.

Additionally, as we've seen in recent years, the NFL Draft has produced an unprecedented level of wide receiver talent. This isn't to say every top-drafted wideout winds up having an Aiyuk-like career or turns into an All-Pro like the Minnesota Vikings' Justin Jefferson (for every Jefferson and Aiyuk, there's always a Kadarius Toney). But, the chances of hitting on a top-flight receiver are better now than they've been in decades.

Trading Aiyuk would net the 49ers a second-round pick at the very least, and there'll be plenty of high-value receiving prospects at that point in the draft.

Provided that a post-Aiyuk receiving corps consisting of Samuel, Kittle and a recently drafted receiver plays at a similar level that the Niners enjoyed last season, the transition would be relativley seamless.

Even if that's a notable risk.

Again, though, San Francisco is likely leaning toward keeping Aiyuk and extending him. But, should that not happen, fans will be looking at these reasons why.

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