SAN FRANCISCO 49ERS

49ers didn’t entertain Aiyuk, Samuel trade talks after Round 1, will likely keep both for 2024 season

Apr 29, 2024, 11:50 AM | Updated: 12:27 pm

Brandon Aiyuk #11 of the San Francisco 49ers celebrates with Deebo Samuel #19 of the San Francisco ...

MEXICO CITY, MEXICO - NOVEMBER 21: Brandon Aiyuk #11 of the San Francisco 49ers celebrates with Deebo Samuel #19 of the San Francisco 49ers after rushing for a touchdown against the Arizona Cardinals during the third quarter at Estadio Azteca on November 21, 2022 in Mexico City, Mexico. (Photo by Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images)

(Photo by Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images)

It’s been two days since the 2024 NFL Draft has concluded, and Deebo Samuel and Brandon Aiyuk are still on the 49ers.

That was the running theme for much of the final build-up to the event last week, with the notion of both wide receivers on the table. Reports indicated such two hours prior to Round 1, when The Athletic’s Dianna Russini revealed SF had attempted to move into the Top 10, with talks centering around both Aiyuk and Samuel.

Those talks only seemed more factional after the 49ers selected Florida WR Ricky Pearsall with the 31st overall pick, an eye-raising decision for many in the NFL. The Red & Gold would go on to listen to trade offers for Samuel entering Night 2, presumably wanting an extra pick (per two) in the rally rounds for the talented playmaker.

In the end, no trade materialized and both men remain with San Francisco. And that was the likeliest scenario all along.

“We didn’t entertain any of that today. We’re happy with our wide receiver group. Actually, more than happy. We’re really thrilled with it and thrilled to have added Ricky to that group and even make it stronger,” 49ers general manager John Lynch said Friday after Night 2.

“Same intentions as the way yesterday was,” coach Kyle Shanahan added right after. “We love those guys. We thought they’d be on our team yesterday. Still do. We still always listen to everybody until the end.”

The last sentence from the previous quote is a testament to Shanahan’s growing maturity entering Year 8 as a head coach.

Previously, the offensive mind would be more absolute in his convictions surrounding trades, closing the door if he saw no need to deal. Nowadays, Lynch has persuaded him to be more open in negotiations, listening to any deal willing to meet their price.

And that’s what SF’s trade discussions came down to: No team willing to meet the 49ers’ colossal asking price for both Aiyuk and Samuel.

The former would have required more compensation, with talks centered around a first-round pick near the Top-20 of this year’s draft. When no such offer for Aiyuk materialized, SF canned those conversations with other GMs. As for Samuel, the notion of a Day 2 selection, plus more, sets fitting was to Lynch’s asking price to trade away their star.

But again: Neither of those deals happened in the end, and for good reason.

Aiyuk, 26, is coming of his first season as an All-Pro, currently in contract talks with the 49ers on a long-term megadeal in the $30 million range. Samuel, 28, is entering Year 2 of his three-year, $72 million extension, set to have a cap hit of $28.9 million in 2024. If the 49ers were to move off Deebo at this moment, it would cost them $22 million in dead money this year. However, the deal would have reset the available cap room for the 49ers in 2025.

A true “Pros and Cons” list, if you will.

But for now, both men will remain on the 49ers, with Aiyuk likely to put pen to paper this summer.

“The plan right now is to move forward with both of those guys. Now could that change at some point? Sure, absolutely. But clearly we know there are some WR questions out in San Francisco right now,” ESPN’s Adam Schefter said on The Pat McAfee Show Monday.

In the meantime, the Red & Gold have looked to add to the WR room as much as possible. They signed special-teams specialist Trent Taylor to a deal this offseason, also bringing back Chris Conley and Jauan Jennings on one-year deals.

SF made WR a priority in the draft as well, first taking Pearsall in Round 1, then taking fellow Arizona native Jacob Cowing in Round 4. Both men will likely play roles for the 49ers in Year 1, regardless of how limited it may be.

The underlying theme of the 2024 draft for SF was finding impact players that can help for Super Bowl run now, while also providing some future relief for decisions down the road.

“Very similar to what we got with [WR] Ricky [Pearsall] in that there’s not a route that he can’t run. He starts outside the numbers and he’s got the speed to get on top of people and threaten with a go,” Shanahan said about Cowing. “He’s trying to violently go through people and when you’re smaller, you hope they’re faster and quicker, which he is, and anything that you wanna knock on a smaller guy he makes up for in his mindset.”

Strength in numbers as they say up north in downtown San Francisco.

The 49ers understand that roster changes are coming down the line, with larger contracts still needing to be paid and givens put simultaneously. Those deals include multiple premium players, like Nick Bosa, Fred Warner, Charvarius Ward, Javon Hargrave. And then of course Brock Purdy and his new deal set to be discussed after the 2024 season concludes.

Point being: The 49ers have tough forks in the road ahead of them, having to draft for this Super Bowl run, and potentially, the next one in this current cycle.

But for now, the 49ers are hellbent on lifting the Lombardi Trophy in February 2025. In order to do that, they need as many weapons at their disposal, looking to cross this bridge only when they have to, with Aiyuk and Samuel.

“It gets harder each year,” John Lynch said about the 49ers’ plans each offseason. “Because one, it’s when you keep your nucleus together, there’s not as many holes for just people to come in and take. And so, especially later in the draft, it can get harder in spots and things like that and obviously from what everyone knows, the better guys play and you re-sign your own guys, it just become very tough to keep a nucleus together. So, each time free agency is harder in that way. The draft’s harder in that way and we always try to make decisions always about what’s best for now with always going into the future and as the money gets higher and our situation gets like this, it definitely gets harder.”

Click here to listen to The Athletic’s Matt Barrows discuss the future of Brandon Aiyuk and Deebo Samuel on The Carmichael Dave Show with Jason Ross.

Key offseason dates for the San Francisco 49ers

  • May 20-21, May 23, May 28-29, May 31–OTAs
  • June 4-6 Mandatory Minicamp

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