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Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

49ers insider on what Jauan Jennings’ extension means for WR group’s future

Jun 2, 2024 at 12:39 PM

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With significant attention on the impending contract extension for wide receiver Brandon Aiyuk, the San Francisco 49ers' decision to sign Jauan Jennings to his own extension seemingly came out of nowhere. While a deal for Jennings was always possible, many assumed that with the drafting of Ricky Pearsall, the team might let Jennings play out the upcoming season on his initially tendered one-year deal.

One 49ers insider believes the signing of Jennings offers insight into the future of the wide receiver group. Many already suspected that the team would eventually have to choose between Aiyuk and Deebo Samuel, given that both will command top-tier salaries, which might not be sustainable in the long term.

If the 49ers plan to sign Aiyuk to a substantial deal this offseason, it could signal the end of Samuel's time with the team next year.

"Now that we know that Jauan Jennings is going to be with the club through 2025, now that we know that Ricky Pearsall is going to be with the club for four years, at least, it really kind of crystallizes that, in my mind anyway, that Deebo Samuel and Brandon Aiyuk won't be around for the long-term together," NBC Sports Bay Area's Matt Maiocco recently stated on the "49ers Talk" podcast.

"So how does that whole thing play out? That's going to be interesting because at this point, I don't think you can keep Deebo Samuel through the entirety of his contract if you're able to sign Brandon Aiyuk to a long-term extension this offseason."

With an estimated $25.25 million in salary cap space right now, the 49ers are financially capable of keeping this core of talented players together through the 2024 season. However, things start to get trickier next year when the team can no longer benefit from having a starting quarterback on a rookie deal. Some long-term decisions may force key veterans, like Samuel, off the roster.

And the tough choices don't stop at wide receiver. Maiocco points to the cornerback group as another area where the 49ers will face difficult decisions. The team will likely have to eventually choose between standout veteran Charvarius Ward and emerging star Deommodore Lenoir, both of whom are well-liked by the coaching staff.

The upcoming season might be the last with this core group of players as the 49ers continue to navigate salary cap constraints.

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