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Sergio Estrada-USA TODAY Sports

John Lynch discusses Brandon Aiyuk’s future with 49ers: “It’s all one big puzzle”

Feb 13, 2024 at 1:56 PM--

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In the aftermath of the Super Bowl defeat, San Francisco 49ers wide receiver Brandon Aiyuk was too emotional to finish speaking to reporters on Tuesday as players cleared out their lockers in Santa Clara. However, before ending the conversation, the wideout was asked if he hopes to remain with the team.

"If that's the right move, yeah," Aiyuk responded.

Based on social media comments by members of the receiver's inner circle, there has been speculation that Aiyuk might be unhappy with his current situation and seek to play elsewhere. However, such speculation remains just that—speculation. Clearly, Aiyuk would want to return if the situation is right.

General manager John Lynch and head coach Kyle Shanahan held their end-of-season press conference shortly after Aiyuk's locker room availability and were asked about their star receiver's future.

"Yeah, you have to prioritize all these things," Lynch responded. "Brandon's entering his fifth-year option. Brandon's been a fantastic player for us. Kyle calls him a warrior all the time because of the way he goes out and competes, and that shines through ... Whether you're a trained eye or whether you're a fan, you can see the passion he plays with. You can see the production that he's had.

"We're extremely prideful in what he's become, and he should be as well. And so your team is comprised of guys, veterans who've been paid very well, of guys who want to be paid very well. We got one guy on our team (QB Brock Purdy) who is pretty prominent, who can't be paid very well right now because the CBA doesn't allow [it]. So it's all one big puzzle."

Lynch stressed that he and Shanahan have developed a good system over their years together, where the coach will focus on the season, and the general manager plans for the future, presenting those plans to Shanahan. Among the many topics of discussion this offseason will be Aiyuk's future and how it might fit into the rest of that roster puzzle.

Lynch added, "But of course, you want a guy like Brandon Aiyuk to be a part of you going forward."

Speaking on the same topic, Shanahan reflected on the delicate balancing act that has to take place and how that impacted the team in 2020 when it was faced with the decision to pay defensive tackle Arik Armstead at the cost of trading defensive tackle DeForest Buckner to the Indianapolis Colts. The 49ers could have kept both players, but sacrifices would have had to be made elsewhere.

"And you don't balance that out until you know all your choices," Shanahan said. "Well, if we do this, can you go a different way? Is there a player available in free agency that would allow us to do something different? Is there a guy in the draft? Are there a few choices?"

Shanahan concluded, "All that plays into it. And that's why those are discussions that don't stop until you really got to make those decisions."

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