The 49ers loved Brandon Aiyuk entering the 2020 NFL Draft. The Arizona State wide receiver was atop their draft board along with Oklahoma's CeeDee Lamb, and the 49ers considered taking Aiyuk at No. 13 overall.
In fact, the 49ers were so high on Aiyuk they endangered their acquisition of Trent Williams -- whom they needed to replace retiring left tackle Joe Staley -- to go up and get Aiyuk at No. 25 overall.
General manager John Lynch discussed the 49ers' roller-coaster offseason with The MMQB's Albert Breer. Lynch explained the 49ers wanted to get the Williams deal done before the draft started, but Washington was fielding other offers.
The 49ers picked up a fourth-round pick in a trade with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and planned to send it to Washington for Williams. But once Aiyuk slid past No. 21, Lynch called the Minnesota Vikings and offered the fourth as a way for the 49ers to go up to No. 25 and take Aiyuk.
He worried the Vikings, who also wanted Williams, would use that fourth-round pick to land the Pro Bowl left tackle.
"Also, we knew Minnesota was in on Trent. Did we just arm them with the ammunition they needed to go get him? Like, Oh, gosh," Lynch told Breer. "That thought went into it as well."
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Lynch's gamble paid off, as everything fell the 49ers' way in the draft. They drafted South Carolina defensive tackle Javon Kinlaw at No. 13 overall to help make up for the loss of DeForest Buckner, added Aiyuk at No. 25 and then traded a fifth-round pick in 2020 and a third-round pick in 2021 for Williams to replace Staley.
Aiyuk is a 6-foot receiver with a massive 81-inch wingspan who models his game after Odell Beckham Jr. He will play a big role in replacing the departed Emmanuel Sanders, who left for the New Orleans Saints in free agency. The acquisition of Aiyuk also might have helped the 49ers take out one of their NFC rivals during the offseason.
The Green Bay Packers coveted Aiyuk, believing he'd be an ideal fit for quarterback Aaron Rodgers. But once the 49ers grabbed Aiyuk, the Packers changed course and drafted quarterback Jordan Love. The selection of Love and the decision not to add any wide receivers was confusing to Rodgers and could be the first domino in a messy divorce between the two.
The 49ers' Super Bowl run ended with Patrick Mahomes lighting them on fire in a five-minute tour de force that saw the Kansas City Chiefs walk away with a 31-20 win in Super Bowl LIV. Lynch and Shanahan entered the offseason with tough decisions to make, needing to focus on maximizing the current window without sacrificing the future.
By getting Aiyuk, Kinlaw and Williams, they were able to do just that.
Why 49ers worried trade up for Brandon Aiyuk cost them Trent Williams originally appeared on NBC Sports Bay Area