The San Francisco 49ers have reached the halfway point of their schedule, and it fittingly comes at the same time as the 2018 NFL trade deadline. NFL rules allow for player trade up until 1 p.m. PT on Tuesday, October 30th. After that, deals cannot be formally executed until the new league year starts next March.
The 49ers are in the midst of their rebuilding process, and at a bit of a curious period in it. They entered the season looking to push for a playoff berth. They had plenty of holes to fill, but with Jimmy Garoppolo, I think most of us thought they could at least hang around the playoff chase into the latter part of the season.
The loss of Jerick McKinnon to a torn ACL in training camp lowered expectations a little bit, but we still saw Garoppolo as the guy who could guide this ship. Once Garoppolo went down, expectations changed drastically. C.J. Beathard returned to the starting lineup, and the team is playing out the string looking to 2019 and Garoppolo’s return from ACL surgery.
The 49ers are looking at a high draft pick in the 2019 NFL Draft, which could bring a serious impact edge rusher or cornerback (or another position). That coupled with the return of Garoppolo and McKinnon likely raises expectations back to the playoff level. We don’t know how Garoppolo or McKinnon will respond coming off a torn ACL, but that won’t stop people from thinking this is a playoff team.
And so, as the trade deadline approaches, the team has to balance a potential 2019 playoff push with the long-term process. We’ve heard trade rumors thus far about Pierre Garçon and Jimmie Ward. Garçon is struggling with injuries and might be hitting the end of the road, while Ward has been shuffled around every year and is in the option year of his rookie contract. I could see both being dealt if the 49ers can get some draft pick compensation.
There has been some mention of Richard Sherman as a potential trade option, but that won’t be happening this year. John Lynch has said he is part of the future, and Sherman himself has said they told him as much. A Godfather offer could come along, but that seems unlikely at this point.
Matt Maiocco brought up an interesting name in his trade deadline primer: guard Joshua Garnett. The 2016 first round pick spent last season on injured reserve, and has been inactive six of the eight games thus far in 2018. An injury cost him a chance at starting over Mike Person, but it remains to be seen if he was going to claim a starting job even if healthy. Person signed a one-year contract this year, so his future is uncertain. The 49ers might very well not be able to get even a seventh for Garnett at this point, but he will be someone to track as the deadline approaches this afternoon.
Another name is occasionally mentioned, but makes little to no sense given the current status of the team. I’ve had people ask if Joe Staley should be traded. ESPN’s Mike Sando recently put together a rundown of deals NFL executives have either suggested to him or he has vetted with them. He included a deal that had the Los Angeles Chargers sending a third round pick to the 49ers for Staley.
I get that the 49ers could move McGlinchey to left tackle and draft or sign another tackle next year, but this where looking to be competitive in 2019 comes into play. Long-term, the 49ers will need to replace Joe Staley. But for a potential playoff push in 2019 and maybe 2020, Staley would seem to be the best answer if you want to fill other needs with higher impact picks. If the 49ers think he will take a step back, that’s another discussion entirely, but to trade him for any other reason doesn’t make sense to me.
Do you actually expect to see any deals today? We’ve heard talk of this deadline being busier than any in recent memory, but NFL trades are slow to develop. I would be pleasantly surprised to see it turn into a busy day, but I’m not holding my breath.