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Maiocco less confident 49ers will get a deal done with Brandon Aiyuk

Jun 11, 2024 at 11:59 AM

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The San Francisco 49ers have had success signing their big-name players to contract extensions in recent years, securing deals with George Kittle, Fred Warner, Deebo Samuel, and Nick Bosa. However, that last one didn't get finalized until dangerously close to the start of the regular season.

This year, the team has been trying to get a deal done with wide receiver Brandon Aiyuk. While the 49ers were confident early on, given their successful track record, that a deal would be reached, the two sides reportedly remain far apart in negotiations.

Last week, Michael Silver of the San Francisco Chronicle reported that the 49ers' most recent offer was a contract that would pay Aiyuk approximately $26 million annually. The receiver is likely seeking something closer to the $30 million range. Of course, this is speculation as Aiyuk's demands have not been confirmed by any concrete source.

Matt Maiocco of NBC Sports Bay Area joined Bay Area radio station KNBR this morning to discuss the Aiyuk situation. While the 49ers insider believes Aiyuk is a talented player and acknowledges that the offense is much better with him in the lineup, he doesn't view the receiver as irreplaceable.

Making Aiyuk one of the highest-paid players in the NFL will have a long-term impact on the team's roster-building plans. Next year, quarterback Brock Purdy will become the 49ers' highest-paid player, and there are other significant contributors in the pipeline. Maiocco argues that allowing Aiyuk to take up a significant portion of the team's salary cap will likely force some of these other stars off the roster.

"Those are all the things that the 49ers have to take into account," Maiocco said on the "Tolbert and Copes" show. "And if you'd asked me a month ago or six weeks ago or two months ago, I'm sure—I did think this, and I did say this—I thought the 49ers would re-sign Brandon Aiyuk right before training camp. They get him locked up, and away we go.

"Now, with the [WR Jauan] Jennings deal, with [first-round draft pick Ricky] Pearsall, with the exploding wide receiver market, I'm just not nearly as confident in saying that. I don't think it's just a slam dunk that the 49ers and Brandon Aiyuk's representation work out a long-term extension."

Aiyuk is currently slated to play out the 2024 season on a fifth-year option that pays a guaranteed $14.124 million. Aiyuk could choose to play on that deal and then reassess his situation next offseason or hold out. However, if he holds out too long, he risks failing to accrue a credited NFL season, which would push the fifth-year option to the 2025 season, leaving him in the same situation.

As a last resort, Aiyuk could also request to be traded. However, that would require the 49ers to find a trade partner willing to give up significant compensation and pay Aiyuk his asking price.

"With the 49ers, I know how they've worked in the past," Maiocco continued. "They wait until the last minute. They wait until there's a deadline and boom, the deal is done. It just seems, with this one, if they were really super intent on keeping Brandon Aiyuk, they would have recognized that all these wide receivers, and a few who haven't even signed yet, Ja'Marr Chase, CeeDee Lamb, there's all these wide receivers who are going to be getting new contracts this offseason, and many of them already have.

"It just seems like, the 49ers, if they fully were intent on keeping Brandon Aiyuk, that they would have been more proactive rather than reactive. They could have set the wide receiver market early. They could have gotten in with the deal, maybe a shade under what Amon-Ra St. Brown eventually signed for. And that way, you kind of get it done, and then you move forward. And then you let all those other numbers fall into place."

Maiocco notes that Aiyuk skipping the 49ers' mandatory minicamp this month signals that the receiver is likely prepared not to report to training camp next month, risking more potential fines to send a strong message to the team's decision-makers.

"It just seems like the 49ers missed an opportunity this offseason to get that deal done and to let the other teams and wide receivers react to what they did rather than now being in a position where they have to react to what other teams and other wide receivers are doing."

You can listen to the entire conversation with Maiocco below.

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