The 49ers front office has been aggressive at the trade deadline whenever they sense there’s a Super Bowl run in sight under Kyle Shanahan. The two most prominent examples are acquiring Emmanuel Sanders in 2019 and Christian McCaffrey last season.
In this week’s 49ers reacts survey, we asked whether there’s a position worth upgrading at the trade deadline. The obvious answers are along the offensive line or in the secondary. Thanks to having a quarterback on a rookie contract, San Francisco has $40 million in cap space, so they don’t have to be stingy when it comes to making deals.
ESPN’s Dan Graziano recently wrote not to rule out the possibility of the Niners making another trade:
Don’t rule out the possibility of the 49ers, as tremendous as they already look, adding a player if they think it can make a difference. The Niners have the biggest of goals for this season, and they were aggressive last year when running back Christian McCaffrey became available. Remember the Rams adding Von Miller at the deadline a couple of years ago? If an opportunity for an impact guy like that comes along — at the right cost — don’t sleep on the idea of the rich getting richer in San Francisco.
Graziano also mentioned that the Denver Broncos, while open for business, view cornerback Pat Surtain II as a building block and aren’t interested in parting ways with their star.
Adding another edge rusher is in the 49ers DNA. Gregory turns 31 in November and has an extensive injury history. San Francisco could go the rental route and acquire Chase Young from the Commanders, who is playing in the final year of his contract.
One name that makes sense is Danielle Hunter from the Vikings. He turns 29 at the end of October, and has 11 tackles for loss this season, including six sacks and 15 pressures. That’s the type of difference maker the Niners would covet, and it wouldn’t cost a first round pick to do so.
But if the 49ers want to part ways with their first round pick, then the answer is easy. Brian Burns is playing under his fifth-year option on his rookie deal. The current contract talks between him and Carolina are “on hold.” Burns, 25, has ten tackles for loss this season, including four sacks, and as much upside as any pass rusher 25 or younger in the NFL.
If the 49ers want to swing for the fences, Burns is the answer this year, and for the formidable future. He’d solve two potential concerns with one. Plus, he’s a long-term option.
So, the 49ers have options, and this is just one position, but Burns is a game-changer that checks every box.