To buy or to stand pat? That’s the question the 49ers must ask themselves ahead of the NFL’s trade deadline at the end of the month. San Francisco heads into Week 7 banged up, as Christian McCaffrey, Deebo Samuel, and Trent Williams are all listed on the injury report.
Each player has a chance to play on Monday night. Dre Greenlaw, who missed Week 6 with a hamstring injury, should also return to practice this week. Some have suggested that the 49ers inquire about a wide receiver, with Samuel’s shoulder — and career injury history. Deebo essentially missed the entire game against the Browns. He played against the Cardinals, but was a shell of himself and wasn’t targeted all game.
Will the 49ers protect themselves against another injury to their receiver room? Danny Gray is on the injured reserve. Jauan Jennings already missed a game. Ray-Ray McCloud missed a big chunk of training camp with a broken wrist. Oh, and Brandon Aiyuk missed a game.
Not every trade needs to be for a superstar like Christian McCaffrey or an impact player like Emmanuel Sanders. CBS Sports’s Cody Benjamin proposed the 49ers give up a Day 3 pick for a wideout buried on the Jets' depth chart:
49ers get: WR Mecole Hardman
Jets get: 2024 seventh-round pick
A nonfactor in New York despite signing early in free agency, the ex-Chiefs receiver probably covets a return to K.C., where Andy Reid knows how to deploy him as a utility man. But if we have the Chiefs making a bigger splash (see above), how about going to San Francisco, where Deebo Samuel is banged up and Kyle Shanahan could just as easily use him on gadget plays?
Hardman, 25, has one reception this season for six yards. He was up and down during his tenure with the Chiefs. Acquiring a “gadget” player undermines what Deebo brings to the offense. But Hardman has game-breaking speed that a player such as Jennings or Ronnie Bell does not possess.
While Hardman has experience as a returner, McCloud is above average in that field. One reason acquiring Hardman Jr., even for a 7th-round pick, wouldn’t make much sense for the 49ers is how heavily they rely on their receivers to block. Hardman is 5’10, 187 pounds.
The logic in acquiring a wideout for cheap makes sense, but the 49ers would likely look for a bigger body who can win outside of the numbers and block between the hashes. That’s not who Hardman is.