A year ago, the San Francisco 49ers moved down two spots in the first round in a draft day trade with the San Diego Chargers. The 49ers knew they wanted Arik Armstead, and they anticipated that a move down two spots would not cost them. In making the move, they swapped firsts, and acquired the Chargers fourth round pick that year, and their fifth round pick in 2016.
Now that the 2016 NFL Draft is a wrap, we know what the final haul was in that deal. In return for moving down two spots to get a guy they claim they wanted all along, they got tight end Blake Bell and defensive end Ronald Blair. They were not going to draft Melvin Gordon, so we can't exactly say they traded Gordon for those two plus Armstead, but we can at least compare the production each team got.
Chris Burke took a look back at 2015 draft-day trades in the first and second round to try and assess how each team did on each side of the various deals. He gave the 49ers the edge with Gordon coming off an up and down rookie season that ended with microfracture surgery in January.
Within a new system and behind a bruised offensive line, Gordon scuffled through a 641-yard rookie season and then underwent microfracture knee surgery in January. An important year awaits, but Gordon hardly looked like a first-rounder let alone someone worth sacrificing extra picks overâin his debut.
Armstead didn't exactly hit the ground running, either, although he was viewed as far more of a project in the first place. By the end of the season, he had cemented himself in the starting lineup (now alongside former Oregon teammate DeForest Buckner). Bell also could see more reps this season at a thin position, while Blair offers pass-rushing upside.
I've read that microfracture surgery has a 4-to-6 month recovery rate, so Gordon should be fine in time for training camp, or shortly thereafter. But the 49ers would seem to be plenty pleased with their haul in this trade. Arik Armstead was not a dominant presence, but he was a leader in PFF's pass rush productivity stat, and improved as the season moved along. He is likely going to slot into the starting lineup in his second season.
Additionally, the 49ers got Blake Bell and Ronald Blair. Bell got some opportunities at tight end following the Vernon Davis trade and various injuries to the depth chart. It was only his second full season at the tight end position (including his senior year), so there is still a learning curve to consider. But he showed some good hands, and will likely get even more opportunities his second year.
Blair has yet to take the field (outside of rookie minicamp), so we have even less to work with at this point. However, there is plenty of reason to be excited about his potential to contribute right away. If he can emerge as a useful reserve this year, the 49ers will be looking pretty in terms of that trade.