There may not be a more discussed player this offseason than 49ers wide receiver Brandon Aiyuk. The 2020 first-round pick is coming off his best year as a pro and is entering the fifth and final year of his rookie contract. He figures to receive a sizable extension this offseason, but there are some questions about how and whether the 49ers will be able to fit another large WR contract on their books.

General manager John Lynch on Tuesday in a press conference at the NFL combine didn’t divulge any details about the team’s negotiations with Aiyuk, but he did indicate that the rising star WR is a player they’d like to keep in their long-term plans.

“Brandon’s one we think incredibly highly of,” Lynch said. “One of my favorite guys around our building, the way he approaches the game he’s a competitor. He’s a warrior. He plays with such a physicality, also with grace the way some of the positions his body can get into. And then he’s got a flare for making plays when it matters most, and he’s served us very well as a franchise. I think we’ve got a nice track record of extending the players that are important to us, and Brandon’s a guy we want to keep around a long time.”

This is the right thing for the GM to say regardless of what the team’s eventual outcome is with Aiyuk.

It makes sense that San Francisco would want to keep him around though. He was one of the NFL’s most productive receivers this season despite shouldering a relatively light workload in the 49ers’ loaded offense. In a scenario where he’s the top option in the offense he would be well worth a hefty extension.

There’ll be some maneuvering for the 49ers to do, and Aiyuk’s contract structure would matter quite a bit when it comes to fitting him into the short and long-term constraints of the salary cap. For now though it sounds like San Francisco is going to push toward retaining the receiver instead of trading him this offseason.

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