San Francisco 49ers general manager John Lynch told the Combine media on Thursday that the team has not reached out to the Pittsburgh Steelers about wide receiver Antonio Brown. A day earlier, head coach Kyle Shanahan said “I haven’t” and “Not that I know” when asked if the 49ers had reached out.
Shanahan’s response left some room for plausible deniability — maybe Lynch or Paraag Marathe reached out on behalf of the organization. Lynch’s comments foreclosed that entirely. He could be keeping things close to the vest, but for now, the 49ers are holding back in the Antonio Brown market.
The Steelers have said they will do what they can to trade Brown, but they will not deal him for a substandard package. Earlier this month, Steelers GM Kevin Colbert said three teams had reached out about Brown, and this week he said more teams have expressed interest. He also said things are at a “very, very preliminary” stage. The team cannot formally trade Brown until the start of the new league year, so they have plenty of time to move this along.
The 49ers could still end up in the hunt, but for now, we are left to wait. There are also the Odell Beckham Jr. rumors. New York Giants GM Dave Gettleman told the media on Wednesday, “We didn’t sign Odell Beckham to trade him. I know that’s all over the place right now, but we didn’t sign him to trade him.” That’s not quite a denial of looking into trading him, but clearly they will be pushing a hard bargain for their star receiver.
For the time being, the 49ers head towards free agency with a need for more playmakers, and cap space and draft capital to potentially add some talent. Brown is on the market, and OBJ may or may not be, but we’ll have to wait and see what the next couple weeks brings before the new league year gets started.