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Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

Albert Breer: A team could still pry Deebo Samuel from the 49ers

Jun 6, 2024 at 8:29 AM

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Never say never. It appears the San Francisco 49ers will enter the 2024 season with both Brandon Aiyuk and Deebo Samuel on the roster, assuming contract negotiations with Aiyuk proceed smoothly. Neither wide receiver was traded before or during the draft, making it unlikely either will be dealt before the season. However, in the unpredictable world of the NFL, nothing is certain.

Albert Breer of Sports Illustrated believes there's still a scenario where a team could pry Samuel from San Francisco's grip.

Breer argues that the 49ers have been dealing with a bottleneck of contracts, having handed out large deals to tight end George Kittle, linebacker Fred Warner, wide receiver Deebo Samuel, and defensive end Nick Bosa. This year, they signed Christian McCaffrey to a contract extension and are working on a long-term deal for Aiyuk. Next year, quarterback Brock Purdy will become the highest-paid player on the roster.

Breer believes San Francisco is facing a similar situation at wide receiver as it faced in 2020, when it had to choose between defensive linemen DeForest Buckner and Arik Armstead, leading to Buckner's trade. It was a decision that never worked out how the 49ers had hoped.

"Given their druthers, this is just me talking, I think they would keep Brandon Aiyuk over Deebo Samuel," Breer said. "And I think it's because Brandon Aiyuk is more of a traditional number one receiver who can beat man coverage, who you can build an offense around. Deebo Samuel is great. He can do a million different things, but at this point, is he a little bit more of a luxury?"

Breer briefly pivoted to praise the McCaffrey signing, saying the situation has been "hovering over them" for months.

"I think they try like hell to re-sign Brandon Aiyuk in the coming weeks and see if they can find some sort of middle ground," Breer continued. "And obviously, the price tag on that has gone up, and Brandon Aiyuk is going to benefit from having waited. And if they can get something done, great.

"Then, I think they get some phone calls on Deebo. And if the phone calls coming on Deebo, there's something they really love out there, fine. If not, they wait a year and trade him after the year. I don't think both those guys are going to be on the team [together] long-term, and I do think that their futures with the Niners are relative to one another and really kind of center on the way the Aiyuk contract negotiation goes.

"But I do think that if it were up to [head coach] Kyle Shanahan and [general manager] John Lynch, ideally, I think they'd like to have Aiyuk on their roster long-term. And if that means trading Deebo, then I think that they'd be okay with that."

The 49ers did field calls about Samuel leading up to the draft. However, the team never received an enticing enough offer to consider trading the dynamic wideout.

This week, when asked if the trade chatter was difficult to ignore, Samuel shared, "Yeah, I heard it. Had a conversation with my agent about it. They was going back and forth with whoever it was. It was a thing at first, but we done moved past it. So we here, and we here to get better."

Breer suggests that he doesn't believe the 49ers will trade Samuel mid-season, impacting team chemistry during a Super Bowl push. However, if another team made a strong offer early enough, Shanahan and Lynch might consider it.

"If somebody's offering a first-round pick for him, now you're talking about something a little bit different," Breer commented. "If the Jets were to offer a first-round pick for Deebo, who obviously knows Robert Saleh, and that is the Jets going all in on it, if you're the Niners, you look at it and say, 'Okay, well, we've got Ricky Pearsall here. We have Jauan Jennings coming back.' ... And now you have Aiyuk as a true number one.

"And by the way, you've gotta factor George Kittle in this equation. I know he's gotten older, but he's still a really good player, and [Chiefs TE] Travis Kelce has shown us how tight ends can last. I think that there is a scenario where somebody could pry Deebo Samuel from the Niners. Again, that's just my opinion. But if somebody comes along and offers a first-round pick, and you're the Niners, and again, you're dealing with this perpetual bottleneck of contracts, it's only going to get worse after Brock Purdy gets paid.

"You're getting offered a first-round pick, part of the equation has to be that means we can get a really good player on our roster at cost control for four or five years, and that'll help us manage the numbers at the top of our cap sheets."

Breer added, "Certainly, if I'm a team like the Jets, and I see Brandon Aiyuk has been re-signed to a contract at whatever, $30 million per year, I'm probably picking up the phone and calling John Lynch."
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