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Jim Dedmon-USA TODAY Sports

Acho: 49ers’ ability to draft well will keep them competitive

Apr 1, 2024 at 12:16 PM--

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The San Francisco 49ers are actively negotiating a contract extension for wide receiver Brandon Aiyuk, the latest star player due a significant payday. Next year, it will be quarterback Brock Purdy's turn.

These negotiations follow a pattern of consecutive years in which the 49ers have navigated signing key players to long-term deals. In 2020, it was tight end George Kittle. In 2021, it was linebacker Fred Warner. In 2022, it was wide receiver Deebo Samuel. Last offseason, it was defensive end Nick Bosa.

What do all of these players have in common? They were all draft picks during the Kyle Shanahan and John Lynch regime.

While some speculate that the 49ers' consistent need for significant spending to retain their core players may lead to a decline, FS1 analyst Emmanuel Acho sees the team's ability to find talent in the draft as the key to sustaining their competitiveness.

"The Niners draft well," Acho proclaimed on FS1's Speak. "Don't let Trey Lance fool you. Fred Warner, third-round pick. Dre Greenlaw, fifth-round pick. George Kittle, fifth-round pick. [Talanoa] Hufanga, fifth-round pick. Deebo Samuel, second-round pick. You find your starting safety, Tashaun Gipson, off the street. Brock Purdy, seventh-round pick."

Critics might argue that while the 49ers have found some good foundational pieces in the draft, there have been some significant whiffs, such as Lance in 2021 or defensive tackle Javon Kinlaw in 2020. Nevertheless, the 49ers have managed to stay competitive, even reaching the Super Bowl last season.

"Their stars are not all first-round picks," Acho continued. "I just named you All-Pros—fifth-round pick, fifth-round pick, fifth-round pick, second-round pick, third-round pick. We've overblown the dilemma.

"Yes, they've got to pay Aiyuk. They absolutely have to pay Aiyuk. But after you pay Aiyuk, what we've found with the Niners is they know how to draft well. I think they'll be okay."

Discussing Aiyuk last week, Lynch made it clear that the 49ers hope to keep the receiver in the Bay Area, stating, "There's a number of different directions that it could go, but we appreciate the heck out of Brandon and who he is as a player. We want him to be a part of the Niners, so we're going to work towards making that a reality."

Recently appearing as a guest on "The Nightcap" podcast, Aiyuk made it clear that he is just trying to get what he deserves.

"We got professionals working on both sides, so hopefully, we can come to a professional agreement to continue playing professional football," Aiyuk stated.
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