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Offseason Plan, Aiyuk Update; 4 Takeaways from the NFL Annual League Meeting

NFL owners, executives and head coaches are in Orlando, Florida this week for the NFL Annual League Meeting to vote on rule changes and bylaws as well as provide league-wide updates headed into the 2024 season. San Francisco 49ers CEO Jed York, president of football operations and general manager John Lynch and head coach Kyle Shanahan are part of the red and gold's contingency at the yearly spring gathering.

After a busy couple weeks of free agency, Lynch sat down on Monday to recap the player comings and goings, provide offseason health updates and offer insight into contract talks.

Here are four takeaways from Lynch at the NFL Annual League Meeting:

Lynch's assessment of free agency was that 49ers were largely successful and able to acquire "the guys we targeted."

"It was very productive for us. I was really proud of our group," Lynch said. "It really felt like a condensed amount of time. As a scouting staff, we do a number of iterations of free agency meetings, but when they added the 17th game and play that deep, it's hard to get the coaches on board with the evaluation process.

"Our coaches, as you guys know, are very involved with that, but they got it done. We were very much in alignment with them as to who we wanted to target, what we wanted to do. Some highlights for me - we did some two-year deals on the D-line so we don't have to do this every year."

The 49ers have signed 11 new players to the roster since the start of the new league year in addition to re-signing players from the 2023 roster and initial free agent acquisitions following the end of last season. Two-year deals were brokered with three defensive linemen including Leonard Floyd, Yetur Gross-Matos and Jordan Elliott. Additionally, Maliek Collins, who was acquired via a trade with the Houston Texans, is under contract through the 2025 season.

Tight end George Kittle and cornerback Charvarius Ward both underwent offseason core muscle surgery.

According to Lynch, the pair of 49ers playmakers are expected to be back in time for training camp after undergoing core muscle procedures shortly after the end of the 2023 campaign. Ward and Kittle powered through the 49ers 20-game gauntlet, starting in nearly every contest in the regular season and beyond. Ward did not miss a single game but did exit early from the 49ers Week 14 matchup against the Seattle Seahawks due to a groin injury. Meanwhile, Kittle suited up for every game except San Francisco's Week 18 contest versus the Los Angeles Rams when the 49ers had already locked down the No. 1 seed in the NFC.

"He (Charvarius Ward) will probably be a training camp guy," Lynch said. "He's already moving. He's doing great. He's been around, and he's doing well with that. Kittle is on the same plan. Kittle had a core muscle procedure as well and will be a training camp guy.

"I've had that surgery as well when I was playing. It's got a pretty high success rate of healing, and it feels a lot better once you get it done... Those guys both got that fixed."

Linebacker Dre Greenlaw and safety Talanoa Hufanga are progressing through their respective injuries.

"You know the Achilles (injuries) take a while... Dre will tell you he's going to be Week 1," Lynch said. "I think, and I don't put anything past Dre, but we have to be smart, so maybe a PUP situation."

Greenlaw suffered a season-ending Achilles injury in the first half of Super Bowl LVIII. The injury appeared to be non-contact with the linebacker going down as he attempted to take the field with the defensive unit. To help fill the void left by Greenlaw, the 49ers brought in De'Vondre Campbell during free agency in addition to signing Ezekiel Turner, Curtis Robinson and Demetrius Flannigan-Fowles to one-year deals.

Hufanga is another defensive playmaker working through a serious leg injury this offseason. The fourth-year pro suffered a season-ending ACL injury in Week 11 versus the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

"Talanoa is doing really well, that's the great news," Lynch added. "He's rehabbing extremely well... Talanoa is a worker, and he's doing a great job."

While Hufanga heals up, San Francisco is looking to sophomore safety Ji'Ayir Brown to be an impact player in the 49ers secondary. Lynch also re-signed safety and star special teamer George Odum to a two-year deal and remains in contact with veteran free agent Tashaun Gipson Sr.

Communication with wide receiver Brandon Aiyuk and his representation regarding contract talks is ongoing.

"We're actively talking with Brandon, trying to figure something out," Lynch explained. "We have a good history of working with the guys we want to get done, to get something done. It takes two sides, so can we do that? We'll see. There's a number of different directions it could go.

"We appreciate the heck out of Brandon and who he is as a player. We want him to be a part of the Niners, so we are going to work towards making that a reality."

The general manager offered limited details, but put rumors of an Aiyuk trade to the Pittsburgh Steelers to rest and reiterated that discussions about the wide receiver's future in The Bay are happening. Aiyuk is fresh off back-to-back 1,000-plus receiving yard seasons and was a crucial part of San Francisco's offense over the course of the team's Super Bowl LVIII run.

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