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Cary Edmondson-USA TODAY Sports

John Lynch expects 49ers to keep Brandon Aiyuk amid trade speculation

Apr 24, 2023 at 1:06 PM

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San Francisco 49ers general manager John Lynch, speaking with reporters on Monday, ahead of the 2023 NFL Draft later this week, didn't want to speculate on what might or might not happen with wide receiver Brandon Aiyuk. The former No. 25 overall draft pick is entering the final year of his rookie contract.

Of course, the 49ers can use the fifth-year option to keep Aiyuk through the 2024 season, and Lynch has admitted that to be the plan. However, there has been some speculation that the team might look to trade Aiyuk if they don't foresee an easy path to a contract extension. That's what happened with DeForest Buckner in 2020.

"We love Brandon Ayuk and excited about Brandon being a part of this team, so I'll just leave it at that," Lynch responded when asked if they would consider trading the star receiver.

San Francisco already has one highly-paid wide receiver in Deebo Samuel. Can the team pay big money to keep another?

"You can't keep everyone," Lynch admitted. "We're trying to do something special this year, and Brandon is going to be a big part of that and beyond as well. And so, yes, you always have to think out a few years, but we're really excited about Brandon, feel like he made another big step [last] year, and I think the best is yet to come, and so we want him being a part of it.

"And at some point, yeah, you have to figure things out, and I guess we'll take that as it comes. But as of right now and into the future, we're really excited about Brandon Ayuk and where he's at as a pro, the work he's done to develop as a pro and become one of our core players here."

Lynch added that he doesn't plan to officially publicly announce the fifth-year options to the media until he has had a chance to speak with Aiyuk and defensive tackle Javon Kinlaw, who is also eligible. The deadline to exercise fifth-year options is in one week.

While most expect the 49ers to use the option on Aiyuk, few expect the same to happen with Kinlaw, who has dealt with an injury-plagued NFL career since San Francisco made him the No. 14 overall pick in 2020.

"JK is doing great," Lynch said of Kinlaw. "He's really in a good spot. He looks tremendous. He's preparing. He's excited about his preparation. I think it's a good feeling when you've battled injuries year after year, and you're in a healthy spot, and you can see it in the way he's walking around here.

"He's just very encouraged and in a really good place, and I think he's earned that right. He's worked really hard to be here, and I think we're all really encouraged by it and excited to see what can come."

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