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Why Rapoport is confident 49ers eventually will pay Aiyuk

Why Rapoport is confident 49ers eventually will pay Aiyuk originally appeared on NBC Sports Bay Area

With Nick Bosa's contract saga officially put to bed this past offseason, the next 49ers star due for a payday is wide receiver Brandon Aiyuk.

The former first-round pick of the 2020 NFL Draft is fresh off his second consecutive 1,000-yard season with San Francisco, and is sure to play a pivotal role in the team's Super Bowl LVIII matchup with the Kansas City Chiefs on Sunday at Allegiant Stadium.

But win or lose, Aiyuk will be entering the 2024 season guaranteed $14.1 million after the 49ers picked up his fifth-year option -- and it would be in the best interest of both sides to work out an extension that could reduce his cap hit moving forward while keeping the dynamic playmaker around long-term.

NFL Network insider Ian Rapoport believes San Francisco will get it done, he told NBC Sports Bay Area's Laura Britt on Wednesday at Super Bowl Radio Row in Las Vegas.

"I haven't [heard anything] yet, but I do think it's on the 49ers, right?" Rapoport told Britt. "This is who you should want to pay, homegrown talent. Someone who -- you guys remember when he first got there, I wasn't sure this was going to work out. It didn't seem like Kyle Shanahan was that thrilled.

"[Aiyuk] has worked his way toward being one of the best receivers in the NFL. And contracts are always a battle, obviously, as we saw with the Nick Bosa one this year. These are the guys that you should want to pay, and I do think the 49ers will eventually."

A new contract for Aiyuk was top of mind for many after Bosa's lucrative extension, which was the fourth time a prominent 49ers player has inked an expensive deal in the last four years. But San Francisco is known for rewarding stars after they've proven themselves on the field, and another big campaign from Aiyuk in 2023 could mean an extension is a lock.

The 25-year-old finished the 2023 regular season with 75 receptions for 1,342 yards and seven touchdowns, one year after hauling in 78 receptions for 1,015 yards and eight touchdowns in 2022.

Aiyuk has proven himself as a catalyst for the 49ers' offense -- a tall order alongside the likes of Christian McCaffrey, George Kittle and Deebo Samuel. And after starting out in Shanahan's proverbial "doghouse," the wideout now is a top dog.

Should Aiyuk and the 49ers leave Las Vegas with a Super Bowl ring, Rapoport's prediction very well could become reality.

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