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Insider believes 49ers are letting Brandon Aiyuk gauge interest around the NFL

Apr 21, 2024 at 4:44 PM

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If the San Francisco 49ers decide to trade wide receiver Brandon Aiyuk, it's likely to occur within the next four days—before or during Day 1 of the 2024 NFL Draft. Despite some unconfirmed rumors, there has been no concrete indication that a trade is imminent. Previously, the 49ers had expressed a desire to retain Aiyuk for the foreseeable future.

Aiyuk's agent, Ryan Williams, has swiftly refuted rumors, including one alleging that the receiver had requested a trade, claiming that the Pittsburgh Steelers were "aggressively pursuing" the receiver.

While no official trade request has been made, an NFL insider speculates that the 49ers may have allowed Aiyuk and his agent to gauge interest from other teams.

"Last weekend, Aiyuk's agent took issue with a report that Aiyuk has requested a trade," wrote Mike Florio of Pro Football Talk. "The truth, however, is more along the lines of Aiyuk getting clearance to see whether someone would be willing to do a deal with the 49ers, which necessarily would entail someone doing a deal for Aiyuk. That could help the 49ers, if the financial offer another team might make to Aiyuk isn't dramatically better than whatever the 49ers are willing to pay."

Florio also notes that the 49ers have rebuffed "at least one overture" regarding Aiyuk. He suggests that if anything is going to happen, it will be within the next few days. If the draft passes and Aiyuk remains on the roster, that will likely remain the case.

To facilitate a potential trade, the 49ers will seek capital in the upcoming draft to add a prospect who can contribute immediately rather than waiting until next year's draft.

Florio suggests that the 49ers might be wise to keep any discussions with other teams quiet until the last possible moment.

"The goal should be to do the deal when the pick they'd be acquiring is on the clock, like the Titans did in 2022 when they traded receiver A.J. Brown and acquired Philadelphia's first-round pick," Florio stated. "The timing prevents the 49ers from being leapfrogged by a team that might guess right as to the player the 49ers would be taking, if they get the pick before it's time for the pick to be used."

Of course, the best option would be to retain Aiyuk and find a way to compensate him without jeopardizing the team's salary cap situation, especially with quarterback Brock Purdy's long-term deal looming in 2025.
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