The San Francisco 49ers now have another star in the person of wide receiver Brandon Aiyuk, but they’ve not yet locked him down on long-term. The still have Aiyuk for another year regardless of what happens, but extending him this offseason is a legitimate possibility.
NFL insider Ian Rapoport has been following the situation for some time. In his latest update on February 7, the 49ers have not made a move but he still expects them to.
“I haven’t heard anything yet, but I do think it’s on the 49ers, right? This is who you should want to pay, homegrown talent. Someone who, you guys remember, when he first got there, I wasn’t sure this was going to work out. It didn’t seem like Kyle Shanahan was that thrilled,” Rapoport said.
“Brandon Aiyuk has worked his way toward being one of the best receivers in the NFL. And contracts are always a battle, obviously, as we saw with the Nick Bosa one this year. These are the guys that you should want to pay, and I do think the 49ers will eventually.”
Aiyuk has led the 49ers in receiving over the past two years, elevating his game in consecutive seasons. Now, San Francisco has to figure out if they can pay him or not.
Whether or not the 49ers actually extend Brandon Aiyuk this offseason, the former Arizona State star is getting paid. As Spotrac shows, his rookie contract features a fifth-year option that pays him $14.1 million in 2024.
Considering Spotrac projects him for a four-year, $92 million deal, triggering the option seems like potential savings. However, Aiyuk can further up drive his price with another exceptional season and then the 49ers are still looking at a similar investment.
Extending him this offseason but building in a salary similar to his fifth-year option would likely allow them to give Aiyuk his big payday while not really raising his cap hit. Even with his option accounted for, the 49ers are within the salary cap by about $570,000.
Essentially, the 49ers do have more room to work with than it seems. That being said, paying Aiyuk will still come with ramifications long-term when San Francisco goes to pay other up-and-coming stars like QB Brock Purdy.
In the NFC Championship, Brandon Aiyuk made the catch of his career to galvanize a 49ers comeback. San Francisco was down 24-10, and Aiyuk made a circus catch to set up a one-score game.
As it turns out, there may have been some intangible benefits at work. After the game, Aiyuk revealed that he had a good luck charm visit him before kickoff.
“Before the game, a ladybug landed on my shoe,” Aiyuk said to Erin Andrews in a postgame interview. “Y’all know what that means. So. That’s all I can say because other than that I don’t know. I don’t know. Just great luck. God was with us today. Great win. It’s crazy.”
Luck or skill, Aiyuk’s grab was arguably the play of the game.