Trent Brown is playing out of position for the 49ers. I know he's a great pass blocker. Anyone can see that, but the numbers agree. He's rated 8th in pass pro among ALL tackles last year, ( not just his fellow RIGHT tackles...), per PFF. BUT... he's so ordinary in SF's run game that his PFF run grade is barely average. Even so, because he's such a good pass rusher, he's still rated17th overall among ALL OTs - WAY above average for a RT. What's the story with that? Problem is that the dude was graded in a run scheme where he can't make use of his incredible length and power. He is not a Outside ZBS RT, (OZBSRT for short), he just a brute of an RT. He plays best, (in fact, he plays awesome) when his job is to blow his dude backwards as far off the LOS as possible and create gaps and they don't do that here. If he's going to to be all he can be, he's going to sign with a power/gap team anyway. Somebody's gonna pay him a lot of money next year and I don't think it will be the 49ers. Why not get something for him?
I get that PFF isn't anybody's bible, but what I saw in their ratings almost exactly matches what I saw when I watched the games. Trent can't block the outside zone play that's basically THE play that Kyle's whole system is built around. He just can't. His job is to QUICKLY get around the outside guy on his side and push him towards the center & away from the boundary. If he can't do that, a poor second choice is to push his guy towards the boundary. He did that very well but, as his low run grade reflects, that's not even close to optimal. It sends the play back inside where there are lots of people and defeats its purpose which is to stretch the defense thin. Think about last year's games. Do you remember one time where he sprung a back around his end? Me neither.
For sure Kyle is bummed that his outside running plays don't get outside. The only reason Trent's still on the team is his near greatness as a pass blocker. He's occasionally beaten with a super quick move but if he gets on you, it's over and Kyle frigging LOVES that. If the play that Trent can't block wasn't the core of his offense, Kyle might even ignore it and his reporting to camp heavy, and all that. But strategically, that play is downright crucial. It's how he starts games. It has to succeed so that the bad people have to defend that play which opens up the rest of the scheme. They've just let Hyde walk & paid $11mm for McKinnon to run that play. We need a RT that can block it even if it means a manageable drop-off in pass pro.
So? Keep Brown through next year and let him walk in the year when we're unlikely to even get a comp pick for him; or trade him now when there's a huge market for him? [ BTW - Trent is a UVA guy. He's not dumb. He knows that he's not getting that part of the job done and I'm sure that frustrates him - which is a real good reason why he and his agent will likely set out for a Pro Bowl kinda career elsewhere after next year... ]
Here's another "thing", perhaps the major thing. I have NEVER seen so many teams around the league with the need for and the ability to afford a Right Tackle who can keep their old , broken, fragile, immobile priceless Quarterbacks upright. It's SO BAD that the Broncs just gave up a GOOD 6th, (6/8/189) for Jared Valdeer, who can't carry Trent's lunch in pass pro and is about his equal in blocking the run. Seriously. His '17 PFF grades were 55th overall and about 80th in pass pro. Think about how bad that is... There are only 64 starting OTs in the league on a given Sunday. You have to really suck to be rated 15 spots behind that. For that, Denver gave up 6/8/189!!?!! What could we get from a team with a QB who needs protecting which also runs a power/gap scheme where Brown could shine on every down? I'm thinking that that we could get someone that would be an overall improvement who we wouldn't have to worry about signing for big dollars next year. Take a long view. The 2nd is where you go for really solid Oline guys. Bluntly, WE COULD GET MUCH MORE FOR HIM NOW THAN ONE LAST YEAR OF HIS SERVICES IS WORTH.
And you rightly say, "Yeah? PROVE I T DUDE." And I say... "Here you go..."
There is no chart for pick for player trades and it hasn't been common in the high rounds until recently. Last year the Pats gave the Saints a 1st and moved them up 15 spots into the late 3rd for WR Brandin Cooks. The Panthers moved up the early 3rd to the late 2nd, by sending DL Kony Ealy to the Pats. This was the first time in years that a team had moved into the 2nd or 3rd by paying primarily with a player. Last year and this one appear to have broken the old trend.
This year is impressive in the number of players that have been traded for picks this long before the draft. Jason Pierre-Paul just got the Giants from the early 4th to the early 3rd , (i.e. basically a full round up and into the third), PLUS an early 4th , and JPP was the 43rd rated Edge guy. So, JPP isn't graded nearly so well at rushing the passer as Trent is at stopping him.
So what's one of the best pass blocking badass power scheme RTs in the league worth? What's the guy who Von Miller called the best young tackle he'd practiced against worth? Is there a market for him? Where's the beef?
Teachers always told me, "show your work" so let's evaluate. Here's a list of teams that need an RT, ordered by my totally subjective view of how badly their QB needs protecting, plus the assets they could bring to the table:
Colts - Getting Luck back after a full season recovering from surgery to his throwing shoulder and they just happen to have a ton of 2nds all of a sudden not to mention their own 3/2/67 & 4/4/104. Everyone agrees that their mostly awful OL is especially awful at RT. Perhaps improving our late 2nd (2/27/59) or one of our early 3rds up to one of their 2nds might sound nice to both sides...
Giants - Eli was on his back all last season and they won exactly 2 games. Eli is old. Eli hardly moves. If they don't trade out of 1/02, they're almost sure to have a new guy to protect at some point soon as well. I read a couple of places that the G-men are going to run a power scheme but I don't know that. Their cupboard was pretty bare until they got those 2 picks in the JPP trade, which also made it obvious that the idea of picks for players doesn't freak them out. They give us 3/2/66 or 3/5/69 and we give em a late pick? How about moving up 25 spots from 2/27/59 to 2/2/34? That would tempt the hell outta me and make Eli feel much better into the bargain.
Ravens - Flacco is 33. He never moved much & moves less now. They have a Harbaugh coaching them so they run power there. They have 2/20/52, 3/19/83 & 4/18/118. Say they let us move up 23 spots from 3/10/75 to 2/20 and let us move up 10 spots from 4/28 to 4/18. Would that do it for you? I'd rather get earlier into the 2nd but other moves to accomplish that become possible by adding this kind of capital.
Steelers - This might be Ben's last year and he got a lot of pressure from the right side last year. They're very clearly in "win now" mode trying to squeeze another ring out of Ben so the thing about having to pay to keep Trent past next season may be less important to them, plus they're in cap trouble so getting a cheap RT might sound totally great to their FO. They would have been higher on this list but I think there run some ZBS there but I don't think Bell will care about what holes he runs through as long as there are holes to pick from. They have 2/28/60 & 3/28/92 but no 4th. There are lots of combos that might work. Again, they might not be able to get us to the early 2nd in one step but, could help add capital for a 2 step process.
Pats - Over the last 2 years, 40 year old Tom Brady took entirely too many hits, many of them complete pancakes. I think that Bill B, Josh the liar and, especially, Brady are sick of that. Nate Solder is gone to the Giants, (add this to the above to see how focused NYGs are about protecting Eli...). Fleming has yet to sign. Here again is a team that's had recent experience with pick for player deals. Funny thing too... they seem to have this 2/11/43 pick that we gave up to road test a certain QB for a year. We move up 26 spots to get our pick back and maybe mess around with one of our other picks... Remember that the Pats don't run any one offensive scheme. They alter it depending on the strengths of their guys and their match-ups week to week, so it could be our Trent ends up protecting Brady... for the right price.
Bengals - Again... Dalton's not getting any younger and he's not getting much protection from their current RT. And while Andy's only 30, it may be win or else time for HC Marvin Lewis, who was apparently teetering at the end of last year. He might be anxious to help keep Dalton on his feet for a count or 2 longer to keep his job another year. They've got 2/14/46, 3/13/77, 3/36/100, 4/12/112, plus 2 Fifths and 4 Sevenths... So they can move us up 13 spots in the 2nd or even 30 spots from 3/10/74 to 2/14 or that smaller move in the 2nd plus 16 spots from 4/28/128 to 4/12. There are lots of workable combinations and permutations.
Seattle - I doubt we'd do business with Seattle who does have a truly dreadful RT situation but who cares? The Jets and Bears, who have both just invested big in QBs, would be improved by Brown at RT, but their guys aren't as bad as those above so they're not likely to pay enough.
But Oakland... I saved them for last because lots of us are real familiar with that team, and, unlike Seattle, we might do business with Oakland. Their RT Vadal Alexander is truly BAD. They need to improve that using as little cap impact as possible. Trent, who is a proven commodity, would be cheaper than a risky high draft pick. Carr needs time for Amari to get open deep so this could be the match made in heaven, especially with Gruden installing some old school smash-mouth power grindin that would suit Trent just fine. They could move us up 18 spots to 2/9/41 in the 2nd or move our 3rds up about 30 spots to the early 2nd. This is the kind of deal that Reggie McKenzie might do. Gruden would surely thank him for it and Trent's as good a fit as anyone they're likely to get at 2/9 after going defense in the1st.
There were rumors that our FO was shopping Trent but that seems doubtful. The word is that he's way ahead of schedule on his shoulder rehab, (he got his scope before last season ended which gave him more time than average to heal and do his PT, so there's no problem in passing his physical. It's hard to imagine Denver, (who had 2/8/40, 3/7/71, 3/35/99 and 4/6/106 to work with), giving up a good 6th for junk like Valdeer if Trent had actually been available. So... I'm seriously doubting that those "Trent's on the block" rumors are true.
So... the reasons for keeping Trent are: a) to protect Jimmy, which I'll admit is pretty huge; and, b) fan loyalty which is completely useless... The reasons for moving him... A) He can't block Kyle's signature play which shows how bad a fit he is on the run side of this offense; B) He's going to get expensive next year and will probably land elsewhere, meaning we get nothing for him; C) The 9ers are likely to spend a lot of their cap space next year which means he's not even likely to get us a comp pick when he moves on next year; D) He's apparently way ahead of his schedule on the shoulder rehab and so his physical condition won't diminish his value much this year; E) There appears to be a YUGE number of teams that have QBs who are in serious need of better protection, so there could be significant competition for his services that could drive up the price; and... F) Although he's a bit of a mismatch with the 9ers, he fits so well in most of these other places we could likely get a very nice price for him. Remember too that we got him in the late 7th so he's basically found money which is admittedly the least important factor raised here.
This is clearly the year to do this. The assets we could get would get us someone who could adequately replace Trent in pass blocking, AND be agile enough to run the plays that are so important to making this scheme work. We shouldn't let another suitor like Denver slip away to keep this guy for one more year only to end up with nothing. We're almost surely going to have to replace him anyway. Let's make it count. It's time.
Be bold boys!