The 49ers are favored by more than ten points this Sunday against Washington, so instead of doing our usual game predictions, let’s go with a change-up. There’s been a lot of discussion on if the 49ers should trade for a wide receiver, so the question has been posed to those on Niners Nation, is it worth it for the 49ers to trade for a wide receiver in the middle of the season.
Their takes are below.
If this were an easier offense to learn, I may be a bit more warm to it but not with Kyle Shanahan’s offense. Ignoring Shanahan and just looking at it as a trade, the first order of business is you’d have to first give up picks, future picks, for a player with a truncated contract (or one that’s overpriced). Second, you’d have to get them involved in the game plan with limited use. So there’s one week already gone if you’re a normal NFL team. With Shanahan it’s worse.
Now with Shanahan, you’re going to now be teaching the hardest offense in the league to a wideout that didn’t get a training camp, didn’t get an offseason, and didn’t get a playbook to study. So there’s two-three weeks AT BEST of them getting acclimated. Remember all the miscommunication and errors on the field between Garoppolo and pass catchers? I’m sure we all would love more of (or to go back to) that. So that means this pass catcher won’t be a focal point of the game plan until Week 9 if a trade is executed tomorrow, maybe not until the postseason.
Also, they can’t just put a few hours in to teach a guy either. Those coaches are busy with the current team and that week’s game plan. It was the same thing with Jimmy Garoppolo, they only had so much time to work with him both the year he was traded and when he was out with a knee injury.
So, now you’ve got a guy who has a huge contract—or is due one— working against your salary cap and draft picks that net you someone cheaper due to the CBA are gone. Sure the 49ers could go for someone that’s not so splashy, but they have plenty of that already. They need a star at the position, which won’t be cheap. We’ve already gone over how the 49ers have the money to pay Buckner, Armstead, etc. Bring in another guy who is due some money and it won’t work.
Oh that’s fine, we’re going to just use him for the 2-3 years left of his contract. Ok. 2-3 years for a draft pick you could get 3-5 years with, a cheaper deal, and have them ready in Week 1? They could bring in a Dez Bryant or someone for the postseason without giving up draft capitol.
There are lots of trades to make. A wide receiver is not one of them.
Well, I explained my position pretty directly in this article yesterday: “No heroes, no divas, no WR1, no problem.” tl/dr — don’t do it. The team is winning and has plenty of young WRs who need snaps to develop. Now — if you get to the end of the year, no one has stepped up and the team is headed for a serious playoff run, the 49ers could take a flyer on AB or Dez Bryant if they feel either has been sufficiently humbled to be a team player and stayed in shape.
The easy answer is yes, anytime you can improve the roster you do it. But as with anything it’s more complicated than that. Considering trading for a player requires analyzing the cost in terms of draft capital and contract, as well as fit in the locker room. I made it clear during free agency this year that I had zero interest in the 49ers adding Odell Beckham Jr. or Antonio Brown and so far that opinion has proven correct. Shanahan and Lynch have carefully assembled a cohesive locker room filled with talented players that consistently put the team first as opposed to the individual, and there’s no reason to disrupt that.
As it stands, there are really just two wide receivers on the open market in the discussion as possible trade targets for the 49ers - A.J. Green and Emmanuel Sanders. It’s easy to see the appeal. Both players in their prime were top tier receivers in the NFL, the keyword here being “were.” Sanders is almost 33, Green is 31. Sanders hasn’t played a full season since 2015 due to injuries, while Green has played nine of a possible 25 games over the last two seasons.
If the cost is a first or (2021) second-round pick for one of these guys, I’d pass. The 49ers have a slew of young receivers still developing, and while the process is slow, the 49ers patience will most likely be rewarded when Pettis, Deebo, and Hurd reach their full potential.
At this point in the season, you are always looking for ways to make your team stronger. The 49ers have won 5 games in a row including a road victory against their division rivals and defending NFC champions, Los Angeles Rams. They are currently in the driver’s seat in the NFC West with the Seattle Seahawks breathing down their necks. However, we need to understand the make-up and identity of this team. The 49ers are built around a suffocating defense and a relentless run game. Could adding a number one receiver improve the offense? Perhaps, however the team has demonstrated that they do not need a WR1 to succeed. The 49ers already made significant draft capital investments in the likes of Dante Pettis and Deebo Samuel (the former they traded up to get). For a team who takes pride in building from the draft, and winning with its current personnel, I find it very unlikely they sacrifice draft picks for a receiver...and making no move is the probably the best move for the team at this time.
It depends on who it is and how much you have to give up. Obvious, right? There are some intricacies to consider, though - a lot of which has already been addressed.
What Kyle Shanahan was able to do in Atlanta with Julio Jones (a generational talent, mind you) did not go unnoticed. The schemes Shanahan can come up with are impressive, even without a bonafide number 1 receiver. What we’ve seen this season—and really, since Kyle Shanahan made his way to Santa Clara—is that the third year head coach is more than capable of spreading the ball around and utilizing the skills of the receivers that are already in-house.
San Francisco has arguably the best tight end in all of football in George Kittle (the people’s tight end). Dante Pettis is showing signs of growth after spending large portions of the offseason and preseason in Shanahan’s doghouse, so to speak. Trent Taylor, a 3rd down conversion machine, is on the mend and should be back in uniform for the final playoff push. Deebo Samuel has potential to grow into a solidified WR1 someday, although that is more-than-likely a year or two away.
The only way I would consider giving up draft capital for an aging receiver (A.J. Green, Emmanuel Sanders, etc) is if the asking price is not too high - and I’m talking, like, a 6th round draft pick. Maybe a 5th. Anything above that is, to me, asking too much - especially when you consider the amount of time it would take the newly-acquired player to accumulate himself to the playbook.
With the progress we have seen from players already on the team, I would suggest John Lynch and Kyle Shanahan steer clear of making an drastic additions before the Week 8 trade deadline.