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49ers insider believes team may prefer WR Brandon Aiyuk play on fifth-year option

Marc Adams
Apr 6, 2024 at 8:39 AM

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The San Francisco 49ers don't always do things like other NFL teams do. But they are consistent, for the most part. Seemingly every offseason, especially in recent years, a star player has wanted a new contract. From TE George Kittle and LB Fred Warner to WR Deebo Samuel and Edge Nick Bosa, the 49ers have given new contracts, but they have waited until late July-early August (and in Bosa's case—September) to do so, much to the chagrin of those players, who wanted their new deal sooner rather than later.

It may not have happened as soon as the players wanted it to, but it has happened. Kittle's contract talks reportedly weren't as smooth as he might have hoped, Samuel famously scrubbed his social media accounts of all things 49ers, and Bosa didn't sign until a few days before the start of the regular season. But each one signed.

And now wide receiver Brandon Aiyuk is the one waiting. I've been among those assuring people it will be wrapped up around the start of training camp. Not because I have any kind of inside knowledge, but only because of the precedent the team has already set. This is how they normally do contract extensions with their biggest stars.

But this past week, one 49ers insider suggested the 49ers may break away from what they normally do, and allow Aiyuk to play on his fifth-year option so they can decide later what they want to do. Although I still believe that the 49ers won't trade Aiyuk and that they'll extend him before the pre-season begins, I'm beginning to wonder if the precedent could be broken this offseason. Could the 49ers do something different with Aiyuk than they've done with the others? After all, they did trade DeForest Bucker.

On Thursday, 49ers insider, Michael Silver, of the San Francisco Chronicle, was a guest with Rob "Stats" Guerrera on "The Gold Standard Podcast Network" and said something interesting about the Aiyuk contract situation. While most in the media believe Aiyuk and the team will agree on a contract extension, Silver isn't as sure. "If he's gonna be a pain in the butt, to the level Deebo was, and you just don't want to deal with that...maybe as the draft approaches, and as you're in real-time in the draft, and looking at who's on the board, you're listening and you're poking around," Silver said. "So I think all things could happen.

"I think they could get him to play on the fifth-year option. I think they could sweeten the fifth year, and kick the can. I think they could trade him even in real-time during the draft, or I think they could pay him, knowing that probably means Deebo, Kittle, or both are gone after next year, and you worry about it next year. So I'm keeping an eye on the whole thing. It's a fascinating, internal debate, and I know they think about it that way all the time."

One of the reasons we note things Silver says is that he has a track record, especially in recent weeks, of being right when it comes to how the 49ers are thinking or planning to move. And if Silver is suggesting the 49ers may prefer to let Aiyuk play on the fifth-year option and deal with the contract down the road, then we need to pay attention to that. Especially when Silver is not the only one suggesting this.

Mike Florio, of Pro Football Talk, suggested last week that the 49ers may prefer to wait until next offseason to give Aiyuk a new contract. "I think the Vikings, as much as they want to pay Justin Jefferson, I think the 49ers want to wait a year and then pay Brandon Aiyuk," Florio stated. "But they don't want to do it now. They may have to go ahead and do it now because he's clearly not thrilled with the current state of affairs."

Of course, this is just Florio's opinion, and fans of the team may normally ignore what he says, but when Silver is saying the same thing, it suggests the 49ers are at least considering this. The danger is that Aiyuk is scheduled to be an unrestricted free agent after the 2024 season. If the 49ers don't extend Aiyuk this offseason, and allow him to reach free agency in 2025, they could end up losing him.

You can watch the full interview with Silver below.

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