Why the 49ers Should Trade Brandon Aiyuk Before the NFL Draft

Aiyuk's contract extension will make him one of the five highest-paid wide receivers in the NFL.
Dec 31, 2023; Landover, Maryland, USA; San Francisco 49ers wide receiver Brandon Aiyuk (11)
Dec 31, 2023; Landover, Maryland, USA; San Francisco 49ers wide receiver Brandon Aiyuk (11) / Brad Mills-USA TODAY Sports

Brandon Aiyuk is a great player who deserves more than $25 million per season, but the 49ers would be foolish to pay him. They should trade him instead.

If Aiyuk played for a team that had a quarterback who could make all the throws, an offensive line that specialized in pass protection and a coach who was committed to passing the ball, he'd be worth every penny of his upcoming contract extension. But he plays for the 49ers, a team that ranked dead last in pass attempts last season. So if they extend his contract, they'll never get a good return on their gigantic investment.

Aiyuk's contract extension will make him one of the five highest-paid wide receivers in the NFL. But last season, he ranked just 36th in the league in targets, because the 49ers run the ball so much. And when they pass it, they spread the ball around to lots of receivers. Aiyuk isn't even necessarily their No. 1 option. Sometimes it's Deebo Samuel or George Kittle or Christian McCaffrey or Jauan Jennings.

A team that pays Aiyuk more than $25 million per season should have a quarterback with a strong arm who can throw deep, and that's just not Brock Purdy. He throws the vast majority of his passes over the middle, and you don't need to spend more than $25 mlliion per season on a wide receiver to run dig routes behind linebackers on play-action passes.

The 49ers could replace Aiyuk with a player who's much cheaper and their offense wouldn't miss a beat. They should trade him before the draft to the Bills or the Chargers because his trade value never will be higher than it is right now.


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Grant Cohn

GRANT COHN

Grant Cohn has covered the San Francisco 49ers daily since 2011. He spent the first nine years of his career with the Santa Rosa Press Democrat where he wrote the Inside the 49ers blog and covered famous coaches and athletes such as Jim Harbaugh, Colin Kaepernick and Patrick Willis. In 2012, Inside the 49ers won Sports Blog of the Year from the Peninsula Press Club. In 2020, Cohn joined FanNation and began writing All49ers. In addition, he created a YouTube channel which has become the go-to place on YouTube to consume 49ers content. Cohn's channel typically generates roughly 3.5 million viewers per month, while the 49ers' official YouTube channel generates roughly 1.5 million viewers per month. Cohn live streams almost every day and posts videos hourly during the football season. Cohn is committed to asking the questions that 49ers fans want answered, and providing the most honest and interactive coverage in the country. His loyalty is to the reader and the viewer, not the team or any player or coach. Cohn is a new-age multimedia journalist with an old-school mentality, because his father is Lowell Cohn, the legendary sports columnist for the San Francisco Chronicle from 1979 to 1993. The two have a live podcast every Tuesday. Grant Cohn grew up in Oakland and studied English Literature at UCLA from 2006 to 2010. He currently lives in Oakland with his wife.