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A trade that would make sense for both the 49ers and Broncos

One team gets draft picks, the other gets a starter

San Francisco 49ers v Denver Broncos Photo by Michael Zagaris/San Francisco 49ers/Getty Images

Denver Broncos general manager John Elway said his team needs to get better at cornerback at the NFL combine. That’s hardly news, as All-everything Chris Harris is set to test the free agency market. Elway is buddies with San Francisco 49ers general manager John Lynch. The Broncos have three third-round picks, and two fourth-round picks. Two of those picks are from the Niners after both teams made a deal for Emmanuel Sanders during last seasons trade deadline.

The 49ers need a cornerback, so this may read as counterproductive to trade one away. When you bench a player twice in a season, you’re giving upon him. The team was put in a difficult position once Ahkello Witherspoon returned from injury. The defense hardly missed a beat, and that was in large part due to Emmanuel Moseley’s play. Moving on from Witherspoon should be viewed as independent from needing a cornerback. That was Year 3 for Witherspoon, and we know who he is at this point. All the talent in the world—as you saw before his injury—but “something” is missing. If there is no trade, Witherspoon would be on the roster in 2020 and will fight for a starting spot, but likely end up as a depth piece.

I’d guess the 49ers are going to want a veteran at cornerback. Someone that’s “been there.” With that in mind, why not try and recoup some draft capital? My trade proposal is sending Witherspoon to Denver. My initial request would be for San Francisco’s original third-round pick. If that were turned down, I’d go for the late fourth-rounder. One thing to keep in mind, especially as we get into free agency where trades happen, is that just because a player was drafted in the third round doesn’t mean he’s still worth that. Witherspoon may still have that worth, especially since it’s at the very end of the third round. A player like C.J. Beathard is a perfect example, though. Nobody is trading a third-round pick for C.J.

I reached out to Tim Lynch of Mile High Report for his thoughts and if he thinks Denver would be interested:

Tim: He’s the guy the Niners benched in the Vikings game last year, right? Looking over his stats, he allowed almost 8 yards per pass on 48 targets and 4.7 yards after the catch. While I’m not sure Denver would be interested, I see no reason a 6th or 7th wouldn’t pique John Elway’s interest here. Cornerback is definitely a position of need, and we all expect him to be aggressive about it in free agency next month.

K.P.: Yeah, he is. Before he was hurt, he was playing at an All-Pro level. Then he had a tough, tough, stretch where he gave up touchdowns left and right.

Tim: It would come down to Vic Fangio then. If he thinks the guy is worth more than what he showed down the stretch, a fourth-rounder could be possible. John Elway listens to Fangio on these kinds of things. I do doubt it would happen at that price, though. Witherspoon def isn’t a household name in the NFL.