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Why Aiyuk shared cryptic social media post referencing Tomlin

Brandon Aiyuk shed some light on his motivation behind a cryptic social media post he made earlier this month referencing Pittsburgh Steelers coach Mike Tomlin.

After reports surfaced that the Steelers had interest in trading for the 49ers’ star wideout, Aiyuk posted to X, the site formerly known as Twitter, directly tagging Tomlin in his enigmatic message.

During an interview on Shannon Sharpe and Chad Ochocinco’s “Nightcap” podcast, Aiyuk revealed what inspired him to make the post while actively engaging in contract negotiations with the 49ers.

The 26-year-old wideout mentioned he had a plan to lay low until his March 17 birthday, which falls in line with the timeline of the cryptic tweet mentioning Tomlin on X that he posted two days later on March 19.

“Every day while you’re under [negotiations] or contract talks, every day is a different day,” Aiyuk explained. “I had woke up, so I was like you know what I’m not even going to say nothing, I’m just going to leave my agent alone, I ain’t going to do nothing, I’m just going to wait until after my birthday. Then I’m going to try and put a little bit more pressure on them.”

The All-Pro mentioned he’d seen the social media posts comparing his and Tomlin’s appearances, and decided to have a bit of fun given the reports making the rounds about Pittsburgh engaging in trade talks for him.

“I wake up and they’re talking about another team that they got me [linked] to trade talks or whatever,” Aiyuk said. “So I just said let me — if everyone is saying this, and, this and that — let me go ahead and just put out one of my little spots. I reverted back to Tomlin, we can have a little bit of fun with it. It’s all in fun, like I said we’re all professionals, it is what it is. But that’s where the Tomlin stuff came from.”

Aiyuk has been a critical component of the 49ers’ offense since being selected No. 25 overall in the 2020 NFL Draft. The 26-year-old earned Second Team All-Pro honors during the 2023 season after hauling in 75 receptions for 1,342 yards and seven touchdowns.

On Monday, 49ers general manager John Lynch quickly dismissed any reports about San Francisco looking to trade Aiyuk, also citing the 49ers’ track record with getting contracts sorted out with their blue-chip players.

“We have a good history of working with the guys we want to get done, and it takes two sides,” Lynch said at the NFL Annual Meeting. “So can we do that? We’ll see.”

Aiyuk echoed a similar sentiment during his interview with Sharpe and Ochocinco, stating he is trying to get what he deserves while acknowledging there are professionals on both sides working on hammering out a deal.

“We got professionals working on both sides,” Aiyuk told Sharpe and Ochocinco. “Hopefully, we can come to a professional agreement and continue to play professional football.”

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