49ers Could Trade Star Wide Receiver After Super Bowl

Ahero from the San Francisco 49ers‘ 34-31 comeback win on Sunday could wear a different uniform next season.

Kyle Shanahan

Bleacher Report suggested star wide receiver Brandon Aiyuk as one of the 49ers’ “top trade assets” this offseason. Aiyuk caught a game-changing 51-yard pass from quarterback Brock Purdy in the NFC Championship Game against the Detroit Lions, which sparked a 17-point comeback.

“The 49ers need cap space, and they may need to sort out the future of wide receiver Brandon Aiyuk to find it,” Bleacher Report staff wrote. “Aiyuk is set to play on the fifth-year option and could become a trade chip if San Francisco cannot extend him.”

San Francisco will have a projected $1.36 million in cap space in the offseason per Spotrac, and numerous free agent priorities await. Aiyuk has a cap hit of $14.1 million in 2024, and the 49ers can save all of it with a trade this year.

“According to ESPN’s Nick Wagoner, the 49ers don’t plan to trade Aiyuk, but the right offer could change things in a hurry,” Bleacher report staff added. “The 2024 draft class is expected to be deep at receiver, so getting a new No. 2 wideout on a fresh rookie deal is far from a terrible idea.”

San Francisco could get lucky to catch LSU wide receiver Brian Thomas Jr. if he falls to the bottom of the first round or the 49ers trade up. Oregon’s Troy Franklin, Georgia’s Ladd McConkey, North Carolina’s Devontez Walker, and Florida State’s Keon Coleman are also names to watch.

For now, Aiyuk will look to make the most of this season with the 49ers as a Super Bowl showdown with the Kansas City Chiefs on February 11 awaits.

Brandon Aiyuk on Big Catch: ‘I Was Surprised’

Even Aiyuk didn’t see the big play coming when he darted down field for a 51-yard catch that nearly ended up in Lions cornerback Kindle Vildor‘s hands instead.

“I was surprised,” Aiyuk told reporters on Sunday. “I felt the look before, pre-snap, that I had a chance to get the ball, but they were just on top. I didn’t even know.”

Aiyuk followed up on that play with a 6-yard touchdown catch to pull the 49ers within a score, 24-17. He said his team “definitely felt the momentum” after that big play, but he deflected the credit.

“We came out after halftime and got Deebo [Samuel] going with back-to-back plays and the third play, really got the momentum going,” Aiyuk said. “It got the fire ignited a little bit. We felt the energy, and then to finish off at seven points, we were just happy with that because we knew what we could do and where we could take it.”

San Francisco piled on 17 unanswered points in the third quarter alone to tie the game. The 49ers then built a 10-point lead, 34-24, in the fourth quarter before a late touchdown by the Lions.

Brandon Aiyuk: ‘Just Two Gutsy Wins’

Sunday marked the second comeback victory of the postseason for the 49ers.

San Francisco needed a game-winning drive by Purdy to beat the Green Bay Packers the week before in the Divisional Round — something Purdy and the 49ers didn’t have the reputation for doing at the time. The 49ers either built big leads and won or endure five rare losses during the regular season.

“That’s back-to-back weeks with wins that we weren’t supposed to have apparently,” Aiyuk said. “Just two gutsy wins: two wins that just show you the type of team that we have, the mindset, the will, and the heart that everybody had.”

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