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Reggie McKenzie’s firing brings comments on Khalil Mack trade

There are plenty of what ifs.

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The Oakland Raiders fired Reggie McKenzie on Monday, and any firing is going to bring rumblings about causes. This firing is primarily about Jon Gruden asserting control of the organization, but we still get different specifics brought up to justify the decision.

The Athletic reporter Vic Tafur opened up with some of what his sources believe led to the firing beyond just “Jon Gruden.” There are various issues, but one of note for 49ers fans is the Khalil Mack trade.

49ers general manager John Lynch has said he thinks the 49ers offered a better deal than what the Raiders eventually got from the Bears. The Bears gave up first-round picks in 2019 and 2020, a third-round pick in 2020 and a sixth-round pick in 2019 to acquire Mack, a 2020 second round pick, and a conditional fifth-round pick in 2020. I doubt we’ll get any specifics on what the 49ers actually offered, but you can infer what you want from there.

Tafur is reporting that he was, “told that McKenzie was against the trade, but one of the reasons he was fired — besides the last three draft classes — was that Davis and Gruden feel that he didn’t get enough for Mack and may have traded him to the wrong team.”

I can only guess the people blaming McKenzie think he should have traded him to the New York Jets. The Jets made an offer, but the details of it remain to be seen. Jets reporter Ralph Vacchiano reported the offer was “competitive,” but did not include multiple first round picks. National reporter Jason La Canfora said that the Jets were prepared to beat the Bears offer, but were never presented with the opportunity. I’m inclined to believe Vacchiano over La Canfora, but you can choose what you want.

If it came down to the 49ers, Bears, and Jets, the Jets seem like the team that would have resulted in the best 2019 first round pick. The 49ers went in the tank after Jimmy Garoppolo got hurt, but at the time when he was healthy, adding Mack might have been enough to push them into the playoffs. Who knows what would have actually happened with Garoppolo after a potential Mack acquisition, but the Raiders likely saw a team that would be picking later in the first round.

The Raiders will get two first round picks from the Bears, but this year’s pick (and probably next year’s) will likely be late in the first round. A first is a first, but it cuts back a bit on the value.

All that being said, it’s still interesting to consider the what ifs with Mack. Two firsts is a lot to give up, especially with the kind of contract he subsequently signed. And yet, he is having a monster season, maybe second only to Aaron Donald. The 49ers will be hoping that someone like Nick Bosa can fill something close to resembling that role. If they can develop Bosa, or another rookie pass rusher, this defense will take a big step forward.