49ers Draft WR Ricky Pearsall in the First Round: Does This Signal a Brandon Aiyuk Trade?

The 49ers pulled a stunner in taking Ricky Pearsall as their first-round selection. But now questions arise if he's helping push Brandon Aiyuk out.

The San Francisco 49ers ended Day 1 of the 2024 NFL Draft sending out, arguably, the biggest smoke signal of the evening.

The Super Bowl runner-ups entered the draft with rumors swirling around the futures of wide receivers Deebo Samuel and Brandon Aiyuk as both emerged as the subject of recent trade chatter.

Now, the Ricky Pearsall selection just may have intensified those thoughts.

Is Ricky Pearsall Helping 49ers Clean House in WR Room?

Pearsall emerged as one of the stunning selections of the night when he was selected 31st overall by the NFC champions.

The 6’1″, 180-pound Pearsall entered this class with no first-round grade. PFN Consensus listed him going as late as 79th overall in the third round, making him a late-Day 2 option.

However, the 49ers ended up making Pearsall the first wide receiver they’ve taken in the first round since Aiyuk in 2020.

And it raises the question: Is Pearsall helping the 49ers clean house in their WR room?

Aiyuk’s name has been a hot topic of trade chatter throughout the offseason. The 1,000-yard wideout hasn’t been handed a new contract from the 49ers and is up for an extension.

Aiyuk himself has been vocal about wanting a new deal. NFL insider and longtime Bay Area columnist Michael Silver of The San Francisco Chronicle reported that an Aiyuk trade is very much at play.

Samuel, meanwhile, has two years left on the $71.5 million deal he signed before training camp in 2022. Yet, he holds a potential opt-out for 2025.

Furthermore, the 49ers have another wideout who has the clock ticking on his deal, as noted by ESPN NFL insider Adam Schefter.

Potential Aiyuk Landing Spots if Traded

The 49ers aren’t scheduled to make a selection until the 63rd pick of the second round. Perhaps that choice could change if the Niners decide to proceed to move Aiyuk.

Could Aiyuk be worth a second-rounder? Or even a 2025 first-rounder? The wide receiver has gotten better each season as a pro. He produced the most receiving yards of his career last season by racking up 1,342.

MORE: Wide Receivers Drafted in the 2024 NFL Draft

San Francisco would more than likely consider a high draft choice and multiple other draft options to trade Aiyuk.

Here are some teams to keep the closest eye on.

Las Vegas Raiders

While the Las Vegas Raiders added Brock Bowers to the air attack at No. 13, the Silver and Black still have a spot opened up by Hunter Renfrow, who was released.

Head coach Antonio Pierce is the wild card here, having worked with Aiyuk before when the two were at Arizona State.

Aiyuk and the Raiders have been linked for most of the offseason given his ties to the new Raiders head coach.

Washington Commanders

Adam Peters is the one at the center of this possibility.

Peters was assistant general manager of the 49ers from 2021-2023, watching Aiyuk ascend as a WR. He’s now in place with full GM duties with the Washington Commanders.

Going to add one more man who could sway an Aiyuk trade: Jayden Daniels, who started his collegiate career at ASU as a teammate of Aiyuk’s.

New England Patriots

According to Tom Curran of NBC Sports Boston, the New England Patriots were actively pursuing Aiyuk ahead of the draft.

Curran included how the Pats tried snatching Calvin Ridley before he chose the Tennessee Titans. They also made inquiries for A.J. Brown before the Philadelphia Eagles signed him to a blockbuster deal before the first night of the draft.

But perhaps Jerod Mayo and company can re-try their attempts at Aiyuk.

Pittsburgh Steelers

If it’s draft capital the 49ers seek, the Pittsburgh Steelers may have the most enticing options.

Pittsburgh, which has been linked as a possibility before for Aiyuk, holds its next three picks before selection No. 99. The Steelers could still opt for a WR, even if it means waiting around the 51st spot (where they pick next).

Or, they can make the aggressive move to surrender two or all three of those top 100 picks to land Aiyuk.

How Pearsall Fits 49ers Offense

Pivoting back to Pearsall, was he worth the 31st spot? And can he fit this high-powered 49ers offense?

Pro Football Network Draft Analyst Ian Cummings believes Pearsall could’ve gone even later in the draft, as he was “drowned out” in a strong 2024 class of targets.

Cummings identified how Pearsall comes equipped with burst on his route breaks and can gain separation, which can qualify him as a new “YAC brother” option for the 49ers.

KEEP READING: Ian Cummings’ Full Scouting Report of Ricky Pearsall

Cummings, though, believes speed isn’t where Pearsall can solidify his paycheck in the NFL.

“Pearsall makes his money with truly hyper-elite catching instincts and hands. Few receivers are better at the catch point than him when it comes to consistently adjusting for footballs, using late adjustments and patience to maintain control, and securing passes through the catch process with hands of glue,” Cummings said.

Pearsall would take pressure off Jauan Jennings more with that hands/instincts trait. Jennings serves as the contested-catch option for the 49ers.

But again, this pick has many across the league believing Pearsall could be pushing out some 49er wide receivers — even the top two wideouts, Aiyuk and Samuel.

Looking for everything you need surrounding the 2024 NFL Draft? Make sure to check out the latest draft results, overall team grades, and updated best remaining players available at every position!

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