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Signing Brandon Aiyuk to a contract extension should be 49ers’ top offseason priority

Feb 13, 2024 at 10:37 AM--

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Super Bowl 58 showcased that the San Francisco 49ers' roster has room for improvement despite possessing one of the most talent-rich units in the NFL. The right side of the offensive line could use some reinforcement. The cornerback position opposite Charvarius Ward might need addressing. Additionally, the 49ers' run defense struggled during the postseason.

However, the offseason focus should center on wide receiver Brandon Aiyuk, the latest star player due for a contract extension. With the team exercising its fifth-year option on the wideout, Aiyuk is signed through the upcoming season. Now, the question remains whether both sides can reach an agreement.

While the 49ers have been fortunate in previous years, signing their star players to contract extensions near the start of training camp, last year's negotiations with Nick Bosa's representatives lingered dangerously close to the beginning of the season.

The 49ers currently have eight players averaging $15 million or more per season, and Aiyuk will likely join this elite group. How soon that will happen remains the question. Ten players, including Aiyuk with his guaranteed $14.12 million, account for over $211 million of the team's 2024 salary cap, which is expected to be around $240 million—perhaps slightly more. The team needs to ensure there are sufficient funds to allocate across the rest of the roster while keeping Aiyuk happy.

Is Aiyuk happy?

Well, probably not at the moment. In his first Super Bowl appearance, the wide receiver caught only three passes for 49 yards. He had an opportunity to secure a crucial touchdown in overtime had defensive lineman Chris Jones not blasted through the offensive line to disrupt quarterback Brock Purdy.

On Monday, Aiyuk posted a cryptic message on Instagram, stating, "Don't forget what got you there," accompanied by an eyeball emoji.

Many would assume this was Aiyuk indicating to the 49ers that they need to be prepared to pay up. However, the receiver's girlfriend took to TikTok, saying, "This might be the last day we touch foot on Levi's Stadium because we might not be out here next season."

This statement could be interpreted in various ways. It could imply that Aiyuk is discontented with the 49ers, or it could simply reflect the unpredictable nature of the NFL, where anything can happen. Without anything else, most rational individuals might lean toward the latter.

However, another member of Aiyuk's inner circle, Draysean Hudson, was more blunt, suggesting that the receiver won't play for the 49ers next season, stating, "This is the exact reason why we leaving San Francisco. Thank you 49ers for drafting my brother we are forever grateful. BA to Vegas."

He added, "Why does your All Pro 1300 yard receiver have 3 catches in the Super Bowl??"

Understandably, tensions are high following the most disappointing defeat of Aiyuk's and most 49ers players' careers. If the receiver is integral to the team's future, there's no doubt that general manager John Lynch and company will make every effort to reach an agreement.

The 49ers possess the talent to rebound from the gut-wrenching loss and mount another run at Super Bowl glory next season. It's difficult to envision Aiyuk not being a part of that.

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