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Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

Here’s a 49ers Trade Possibility: Option One Lamborghini for Another

Jul 1, 2024 at 6:43 PM

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As has been discussed almost daily, San Francisco 49ers standout wide receiver Brandon Aiyuk is seeking a hefty pay raise. He has been very vocal about that and has taken to social media to make his case.

During an appearance on The Pivot Podcast, Aiyuk expressed frustration with the status of the contract negotiations. He views himself as an elite wide receiver and wants to be paid like one.

"I don't know what the finances are and what they have going on," Aiyuk said. "If you can't afford a Lamborghini, you can't have one."

And as much as he'd like to get paid today, Aiyuk keeps running headlong into this indisputable fact: He is contractually committed to the 49ers, who have a lease with an option to buy.

Aiyuk is contractually committed to the 49ers through the 2024 season, guaranteeing him a $14.1 million salary for the upcoming season. By contract, the 49ers can keep their Lamborghini one more year and then make a long-term decision next year.

That won't make Aiyuk happy, but it is an option.

Hopefully, the team and player will reach an accord on a long-term extension before training camp. But what if they don't? What if Aiyuk chooses to boycott training camp and force a trade? What if the Niners took their one-year option on Aiyuk and traded their Lamborghini for a different Lamborghini? What if the Niners traded Aiyuk straight up to the Broncos for shutdown corner Patrick Surtain II?

Pro Football Focus rates 49er corner Mooney Ward and Surtain as the game's third and fourth-best cover corners.

If the Niners are sold on Ricky Pearsall and willing to plug him into the lineup, they could move Aiyuk, improve the team, and gain cap savings and flexibility.

Elite corners are paid $20 million annually, while the market for an elite wide receiver is edging toward $30 million annually. That's a $10 million yearly price gap—emphasis on per year. Trading Auyik for a top-tier cornerback could save San Francisco $50 million over five years. With an extra $50 million, the team could retain more of its rostered talent.

Acquiring Surtain would cost the Niners $3.5 million this year and $19.8 million next year. Management could restructure Surtain's 2024 contract, convert it into a long-term deal, and save enough money to retain Surtain and Mooney Ward.

The Chiefs won the Super Bowl with two elite press corners: La'Jarius Sneed and Trent McDuffie.

Pairing Surtain with Ward and moving Deommodore Lenior to nickel would give the Niners the best corner tandem and the best defense in football.

Presumably, San Francisco's end goal is to win the Super Bowl this year. That begins by winning the NFC title, where they will have to get past the ascending Rams, Packers, and Lions, all of whom boast first-rate talent at wide receiver.

If the Niners clear those hurdles, they may earn a Super Bowl rematch with the Chiefs, who enter 2024 with a better-receiving corps than they presented in last year's Super Bowl. Patrick Mahomes is still the most dangerous quarterback in the game, and now he has elite speedsters to throw to: Hollywood Brown, who clocked a 4.27 40-yard dash time at his Pro Day at Oklahoma, and first-round pick Xavier Worthy, who posted a record 4.21 40-yard dash time at the NFL Combine.

So, the question bears asking: Are the 49ers more apt to win the Super Bowl with Brandon Aiyuk to throw to or two shutdown corners that can take away the pass?

Brandon Aiyuk is an exceptional talent. There's no question about that. However, the Niners' best route to the Super Bowl may be to trade one Lamborghini for another.
The opinions within this article are those of the writer and, while just as important, are not necessarily those of the site as a whole.
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