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2017 NFL Draft: ESPN offers two trade ideas to net 49ers a quarterback

These are two distinctly different ways of addressing the QB position.

We’ve been rolling through a host of mock drafts dating back to the end of the season, but ESPN offers up the craziest kind of mock yet. Each year, Bill Barnwell puts together a mock draft in which he makes a trade with every single pick. Each trade is considered in its own universe, so a 49ers trade at No. 2 has no bearing on a potential 49ers trade further down.

I mention the 49ers because Barnwell offers up two hypothetical deals the team could consider. Both deals afford the team an opportunity to get a potential franchise quarterback. Brian Hoyer is the starter for now, but at some point the organization needs to find someone who can be penciled in for more than a year or two.

The first trade is a big one involving the No. 2 pick. He has the 49ers dealing the No. 2 pick and Brian Hoyer to Washington for Kirk Cousins. Here’s what Barnwell says about this hypothetical deal:

Cousins has been linked to a reunion with his former offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan in San Francisco all offseason. Washington has locked up Cousins for 2017 with the exclusive franchise tag, but there has been no progress on a long-term deal. It would either lose Cousins for free (minus a possible third-round comp pick) next year or be stuck franchising him at a staggering $34.4 million price tag, which is unlikely to be a viable option.

If Washington doesn't think it can bring back Cousins, the time to strike is now. This is likely the best asset it will be able to get in return for Cousins before he leaves, and while Hoyer would be a downgrade, the 31-year-old would be a useful, cheap stopgap for two years with just $8 million heading over to Washington. The 49ers would eat the $4 million they already paid Hoyer as a signing bonus, but something tells me they wouldn't hesitate if it meant getting a franchise quarterback in Cousins.

That would certainly be a bold move. I remain hesitant about Cousins, but if Kyle Shanahan thinks he can be his franchise quarterback, dealing the No. 2 pick would actually make sense. If there was a no-doubt QB option available at the second overall pick, the 49ers would draft him. If they think Cousins is a no-doubt QB option and can get him for the No. 2 pick and Hoyer, I can see why they would do that.

The best line I’ve heard to describe Cousins is that he’s good enough to get a GM fired. If the 49ers pulled this kind of deal and he didn’t pan out over the next two or three years, John Lynch and Kyle Shanahan could very well go down with the QB. But again, if Shanahan and Lynch are convinced Cousins is the option, this is not the worst trade in the world.

It seems unlikely to happen however, which brings us to a second trade. Barnwell suggests a deal in which the 49ers trade up from the second round to get the Baltimore Ravens pick at No. 16. Barnwell has the 49ers getting No. 16 and a sixth round pick (No. 186) and giving up their second (No. 34), two fourths (No. 109, 143), and a 2018 second round pick. Here’s what Barnwell says about the hypothetical deal:

If the 49ers aren't confident about getting Kirk Cousins and want to draft one of the defensive stars with the second overall pick, here's a deal in which they get back into the middle of the first round to nab a quarterback. The Ravens are likely looking for pass-rushers and offensive linemen, and in this draft, it's better to go after those guys in the middle rounds. Ozzie Newsome should be effective at drumming up interest in this pick from teams looking at quarterback options, and while it would be tempting for the Ravens to trade this selection for San Francisco's 2018 first-rounder, my deal provides a mix of useful draft assets for a Baltimore team that is increasingly dependent upon guys playing out rookie deals.

This kind of deal would depend on what quarterbacks slip down to No. 16, and that is unpredictable for the moment. Teams drafting ahead of the 16th pick that might consider a quarterback include the Cleveland Browns, Jacksonville Jaguars, New York Jets, Los Angeles Chargers, Buffalo Bills, New Orleans Saints, and Arizona Cardinals. Some are more likely than others on that list, but all seven could easily walk away with a quarterback in the first two days of the draft.

Again, it comes down to how Kyle Shanahan and John Lynch view this quarterback class. I’m not all that enthused about a lot of the options, at least not first round enthused. But if Shanahan decides QB X is worth grabbing in the first round, particularly in a trade up, do we just say, “alright, you’re getting paid the big bucks and are viewed as the offensive genius, I hope you’re right”?