There will be plenty of trade rumors involving the San Francisco 49ers. They’ve involved cornerbacks, wide receivers, and offensive tackles. ESPN’s Bill Barnwell proposed a trade idea where the Niners make a move for Cincinnati Bengals wide receiver A.J. Green. Here’s what Barnwell had to say, before Monday nights win:
The trade: San Francisco 49ers trade a 2020 first-round pick and a 2021 second-round pick to the Bengals for Green and a 2020 second-round pick
The plan has always been for Kyle Shanahan to have a dominant wide receiver in San Francisco. While the 49ers are 3-0, they don’t have much of an identity at wide receiver. No wideout has played more than 62% of the snaps for the 49ers this season, and Shanahan has given each of the five wide receivers on his roster meaningful playing time. There’s nothing inherently wrong with that plan, but it’s not how the offensive guru has approached his receiving corps in years past.
With the 49ers’ playoff chances spiking from 30.8% before the season to 71.2% percent in advance of Monday night’s game against the Browns, trading for Green with the hope he can make an impact during the second half of the season makes a lot more sense. Trading for a focal point in Green would give the 49ers two top-tier pass-catchers (along with George Kittle) and allow players such as Dante Pettis and Marquise Goodwin to move into complementary roles, where they might be more productive. The 49ers have been one of the most run-happy teams in the league; adding Green would make Jimmy Garoppolo’s life easier, too.
A first-round pick for Green, even given his advancing age and the need for a new deal, would give the 49ers one of the few pieces they lack. I’m throwing in the swap of second-round picks, mostly so the 49ers don’t have to go without first- and second-round picks in 2020 after trading the latter for Dee Ford. It’s also an upgrade for the Niners, as the Bengals are likely to finish with one of the juiciest second-round picks given their 0-5 start and the range of possibilities for the 49ers during the 2020 season.
The risk for Green is a bit much for me. Here’s what one executive said about Green that I agree with:
“At one time, I would have put him in that group with Julio. He is just banged up. To say he is a 1 today, I don’t know that. I think he is trending down. Let’s see how he comes back.”
There’s a gamble trading for any player, but a 31-year old hasn’t practiced since he injured ligaments in his right ankle during the first Bengals practice of the preseason. Bengals’ coach Zac Taylor said there hadn’t been any setbacks, but Green has missed 18 games over the past three seasons with various injuries, and there’s no reason to believe that will change all of a sudden. Green has been one of the better receivers in the NFL when healthy, but if I’m giving up a first-round pick, I will use it on Stefon Diggs, who is 25-years old, or know that this upcoming draft class features some top-tier talent and wait it out.