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49ers insider weighs in on Deebo Samuel vs. Brandon Aiyuk debate

Feb 16, 2024 at 5:26 PM--

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Brock Purdy has just completed his second NFL season, which means he's under contract with the San Francisco 49ers for two more years. The team is allowed to begin negotiating a contract extension after the 2024 season. With a salary cap hit of around $1 million next season, Purdy's contract provides the 49ers with some flexibility, allowing them to allocate funds elsewhere on the roster.

However, the 49ers are undoubtedly looking ahead, aware that Purdy will eventually demand a larger share of the team's cap space. With the next significant contract anticipated for wide receiver Brandon Aiyuk, a debate has arisen regarding the long-term likelihood of retaining both Aiyuk and Deebo Samuel.

With some big financial decisions looming, it might only be feasible to keep one of the receivers, raising the question: which option is better for the 49ers?

Matt Barrows, from The Athletic, recently shared his insights on the topic during an interview with Bay Area radio station KNBR.

"If it came down to Deebo Samuel or Brandon Aiyuk, I think they go with Brandon Aiyuk because he's on the same page as Brock Purdy," Barrows said. "We saw that chemistry all year long. They seemed perfect for each other. They seem made for each other, whereas Deebo Samuel had some absolutely terrific games this season but didn't seem to have the same passing chemistry. A lot of his yards were short passes that he creates yards after the catch."

Although Samuel accounted for just over $8.6 million against the salary cap this past season, his cap hit is set to balloon to over $28.6 million in 2024.

Aiyuk is scheduled to earn over $14.1 million on his fifth-year option during the upcoming season. Although, the 49ers likely hope to sign him to a contract extension before then, and the receiver is unlikely to want to play in 2024 without an extension.

This week, when asked if he hopes to remain with San Francisco, Aiyuk responded, "If that's the right move, yeah."

Aiyuk concluded the regular season with a team-leading 1,342 receiving yards and seven touchdowns. Samuel fell short of 900 receiving yards for the fourth time in his five NFL seasons but showcased his versatility by amassing 1,117 scrimmage yards and 12 total touchdowns.

Neither player made a significant impact in the Super Bowl against the Kansas City Chiefs, combining for six catches for 82 yards. While choosing between the two players presents a challenging decision, Barrows believes the 49ers' decision-makers would lean toward Aiyuk.

Barrows concluded, "I mean, there are no easy decisions to be made, but that's kind of how I would see it going if they had to make a tough choice like that."

You can listen to the entire conversation with Barrows below.

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