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Why 49ers’ Deebo Samuel might approach 2024 season like a contract year

May 8, 2024 at 12:31 PM

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The Athletic's Tim Kawakami recently fielded questions from fans regarding the San Francisco 49ers. One of the hot topics surrounding the team resolves around the future of wide receiver Deebo Samuel, currently under contract through the 2025 season. However, a lot signals that his time in red and gold may end earlier than that.

Brandon Aiyuk has emerged as the 49ers' top receiving target, leading the team with 1,342 receiving yards and surpassing 1,000 yards for the second consecutive season. San Francisco is actively negotiating a contract extension to secure Aiyuk's presence on the team for the foreseeable future.

"I've communicated on a couple of occasions, on many occasions, our wish," said general manager John Lynch last month. "And our wish is that he's here and a part of the Niners for the rest of his career. We're working through that."

One fan asked Kawakami what a contract extension for Aiyuk might mean for his teammate and friend, Samuel. Could it imply that the 49ers are inevitably moving on from the versatile offensive weapon?

"I think a lot of things over the last few years have signaled that Deebo isn't likely to be a 49er beyond 2024, and yes, a presumed giant new deal for Aiyuk would be the latest indication," Kawakami responded. "It's extremely unlikely that the 49ers will want two receivers near the top of the market while also having the top-paid running back (Christian McCaffrey) and offensive lineman (Trent Williams) and fourth-highest-paid tight end (George Kittle)."

Kawakami underscores that Samuel's current contract includes a potential out after the upcoming season, which the receiver and his agent obviously found acceptable during the negotiation process.

Consequently, Samuel might view the upcoming season akin to a contract year, which could prove advantageous for the 49ers. While Samuel amassed an impressive 1,770 all-purpose yards in 2021, including 1,405 receiving yards, he has failed to replicate such figures over the past two seasons, missing six games during that period.

"I think Shanahan and Lynch are betting that putting Deebo into what's essentially a contract year will motivate him to have the best season possible," Kawakami remarked, "which would put himself in the best possible negotiating position next summer. The same way he did in 2021 leading into the 2022 negotiations.

"It's possible that Shanahan and Lynch are wrong about this. But I suspect that they're right."
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