On this day in history ... the San Francisco 49ers sent a fifth round pick to the Miami Dolphins in return for wide receiver/kick returner Ted Ginn Jr. The response on Niners Nation was mostly positive, with folks hoping that he was brought in more for a kick returner than a receiver, which more or less turned out to be the case. I say more or less because the 49ers actually had him in on quite a few offensive plays, but he really didn't produce much in that regard. Still, a returner was a huge need going into 2010, and most fans crossed that off the list when Ginn came in.
As I said earlier, he didn't produce much on offense, catching twelve passes for 163 yards and a touchdown. Some thought he would excel as a deep threat, but that simply wasn't the case. Oddly enough, the 49ers actually used him a go-to guy on shorter routes on third down and things like that, with predictable results. Will he always have potential on offense? Yes, he will, but it's probably been too long to seriously hope for that now. Let's open and close that book where it's at. Make the jump to go over Ginn's production.
But as a returner, Ted Ginn Jr. was above average - at least on punt returns. If you needed a reminder, in 2009 the 49ers had a 4.4 average on punt returns, good for last in the league. Ted Ginn came in and improved that to 11.8, good for seventh in the NFL. That's twenty-five places the team moved up, an unquestionable increase. On punts, I was hoping for more explosiveness out of Ginn, but if you can at least be consistent, that's good enough for me. Ginn remains a potential weapon in that regard.
The kickoff average did go down a little, as the 49ers were 23rd in the league with a 21.8 average in 2009, while in 2010, they were ranked 30th in the league with a 19.5 average. In 2010 though, the team did end up having nine more returns in the previous year, so there's more room for error in that regard. The biggest thing to note about the kickoff returns is the fact that the 49ers' unit as a whole significantly regressed. Over a short period of time, the 49ers lost Jeff Ulbrich, Donald Strickland, Michael Robinson and Scott McKillop, all excellent special teamers. The guys they brought in just were not that good, and Robinson was sorely missed.
Without someone like Robinson leading the way, it was largely just Ginn back there all on his own. I have always stressed Robinson's importance and how the 49ers would struggle without him, and it showed. Another thing to note at that point is the fact that Seattle Seahawks jumped from 20th in average up to 10th. So Ginn's lacking production on kickoffs can be attributed partly to that. There's only a rare kind of person who can do it all on their own, and Ginn is not that guy.
Still, who got the better deal in this trade? Well, the Dolphins used that pick to select Nolan Carroll, a cornerback out of Maryland. Carroll had three tackles and an interception in 2010, which I guess ... is somewhat comparable to Ginn's production on offense? Carroll was thrust into the kick return role for a couple reasons, and did good there, actually having a higher average than Ginn, but in a considerably less amount of attempts. I'd give it to Ginn and the 49ers, but I'm also going to point to a quote from this article:
Several people inside the Dolphins weren't pleased that the team traded away Ted Ginn Jr., the team's only legitimate speed threat and a solid kickoff returner, for a fifth-round pick. "We gave him away for nothing," one team source said.
So what do you think a year later, who got the better deal, and are you happy with the trade?