Brandon Aiyuk 49ers contract extension prospects assessed by Jerry Rice – NBC Sports Bay Area & California

STATELINE, Nev. — Wide receiver Brandon Aiyuk still doesn’t have a contract extension and the days are ticking away until the start of the 49ers’ training camp.

While Aiyuk’s uncertain contractual situation was a major topic during the offseason, the best receiver in football history stressed that what happens on the football field must take priority.

“I think his main focus right now, Brandon Aiyuk, is just to play football,” Rice told NBC Sports Bay Area on Wednesday during the American Century Championship at Edgewood Tahoe Golf Course.

“Play football and let his ability speak for itself, and we’ll see what happens after the season. That’s in his power. That’s what you want.”

Aiyuk is seeking a long-term extension before the start of the season. Aiyuk will play this season under the fifth-year, $14.124 million option.

If the 49ers and Aiyuk fail to reach a contract agreement, he could be forced to play out this season on his current deal, which would make him eligible for unrestricted free agency next offseason.

Of course, the 49ers could also tag him as their franchise player next year, which would open up potential trade options. Aiyuk is expected to become one of the league’s highest-paid receivers with his next contract.

“I think he would love it if he had that security already, and he didn’t really have to think about it and he could just go out and play football,” Rice said. “But he still has a chance to show what he can do.

“I think the most important thing for him right now is to play his best football. He has to show everybody that ‘Hey, look, I’m that No. 1. And if you make me that No. 1, then I’m going to be productive.'”

Aiyuk led the 49ers in receptions and receiving yards the past two seasons. He had 75 catches for a career-best 1,342 yards and seven touchdowns in 2023 while being named Second Team All-Pro.

Rice said he couldn’t make any predictions about the outcome of Aiyuk’s contract, but he did say he didn’t want the issue to hinder the team’s success.

“That’s up to management,” Rice said. “They make the decisions. They do all that stuff. And we’ll see what happens. But we can’t let that distract us or anything, because that door is going to close eventually. And we’re so close now, we’ve got to kick it in.”

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