John Lynch teases 49ers plan for Brandon Aiyuk and Deebo Samuel

San Francisco 49ers general manager John Lynch claims the team will not trade wide receivers Brandon Aiyuk or Deebo Samuel, but he hinted that the team may move on from one of them next offseason.
Seattle Seahawks v San Francisco 49ers
Seattle Seahawks v San Francisco 49ers / Thearon W. Henderson/GettyImages

The San Francisco 49ers have been one of the most star-studded teams in the league for the past few seasons. San Francisco had seven first-team All-Pro players in 2023, marking the team’s third consecutive season with multiple All-Pro selections on their roster.

But with the star-studded lineup, the Niners have struggled to find the salary cap space to retain wide receiver Brandon Aiyuk, who has developed into the team's best receiver since being drafted in the first round of the 2020 NFL Draft.

It would be difficult for the Niners to sign another wide receiver since Deebo Samuel is already one of the highest-paid wide receivers in the league, and a monster contract extension for quarterback Brock Purdy is on the horizon. San Francisco picked up the fifth-year option on Aiyuk's rookie contract, but the budding star has made it clear that he's looking for a contract extension.

When San Francisco selected wide receiver Ricky Pearsall with the No. 31 overall pick in the 2024 NFL Draft, it signaled that the team was planning on trading Aiyuk. During an interview on “The Pat McAfee Show,” San Francisco general manager John Lynch said that trade conversations "absolutely" happened throughout the offseason, but the Niners are "past that now."

Niners may be expecting to lose Deebo Samuel or Brandon Aiyuk in 2025

Although Lynch claims that San Francisco has no short-term plans to trade one of their dynamic wide receivers, he may have hinted that the team does not expect one of them to be in their long-term plans.

"Part of my job is to think about the now and to think into the future as well," Lynch said about San Francisco's wide receiver additions in the 2024 NFL Draft.

Lynch may be hoping that Pearsall can replace Aiyuk or Deebo next offseason. Teams often draft players for potential roster needs in future seasons. By doing so, they can have develop a player before forcing him into action. Pearsall may not be a major contributor this season, but a promising rookie campaign from him could spell the end of Samuel or Aiyuk in San Francisco. If the Niners can get the same production out of a young player on a rookie contract, they'd have no need to keep both Samuel and Aiyuk on the roster.

While it's easy to believe that San Francisco would keep Samuel and move on from Aiyuk, that may not be the case. Samuel is often viewed as the Niners’ best wideout, but Aiyuk has quietly become the most important cog in the team’s passing game. The chemistry Aiyuk has developed with quarterback Brock Purdy was on display during the Niners’ deep postseason run last year. After all, the Niners could get draft picks in exchange for Samuel. If Aiyuk leaves next offseason, it'll either be through free agency or a tag-and-trade situation. The Niners would not receive much compensation in either situation.

After factoring in Samuel's injury history, it may be wiser to sign Aiyuk to an extension and trade Samuel.

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