The San Francisco 49ers last faced the Los Angeles Rams on October 21st, getting thumped 39-10 at Levi’s Stadium. Ten days later, the 2018 NFL trade deadline came and went, and the Rams made a notable roster addition. They traded a 2019 third round pick and a 2020 fifth round pick to the Jacksonville Jaguars in exchange for pass rusher Dante Fowler Jr.
The Rams entered the trade deadline with an 8-0 record, and were looking like the top dog in the NFC. The New Orleans Saints beat them the Sunday after the trade deadline and have since secured home field advantage in the coming playoffs. That being said, Fowler brings a presence that will help the Rams defense in January. He only has two sacks in seven weeks with the Rams, but he also has 14 hurries and four hits on the quarterback.
When the trade deadline was approaching, the 49ers did have interest in adding a pass rusher, but head coach Kyle Shanahan explained why they likely did not make a big push (if any push) for Fowler.
“We’re always interested in adding pass rushers and he’s a good pass rusher to add. It was just a tough situation for us because you knew he was on the final year of his contract so you know you’re only making a trade for a guy who you can only guarantee half the year. So, you’ll see how that goes, but it was just a little risky for the situation we were in.”
The 49ers have said they have been interested in various players over the course of the season. Some folks have scoffed at their comments of interest, but it’s interesting to see this clarification from Shanahan as to why they likely did not make a big push for Fowler. Even when everybody was healthy, the Super Bowl was still kind of a longshot. When Fowler was traded, the playoffs were off the table, so it makes sense not to bring in a one-year rental where you aren’t sure you’re going to extend him.
Fowler is a free agent after this season, and the 49ers need pass rushers. There is a good chance they draft one with their first round pick, but I would not be surprised to see them invest some of their sizable cap space in the position. We’ll see if they make a run at Fowler in March.