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Why the 49ers didn’t trade for former Lions CB Jeff Okduah

You can never have enough cornerbacks, but the juice wasn’t worth the squeeze in this scenario

Detroit Lions vs Chicago Bears Photo by Amy Lemus/NurPhoto via Getty Images

The 49ers have made a habit of turning other teams' trash into treasure, specifically higher draft picks. We’ll see if the Niners can continue that theme this upcoming season with Clelin Ferrell and Sam Darnold.

Speaking of former No. 3 overall picks, on Tuesday, the Atlanta Falcons traded for former Lions first-round cornerback Jeffrey Okudah for next to nothing. Okudah was dealt for a fifth-round pick in this year’s NFL draft.

Knowing you can never have enough quality cornerbacks, it’s easy to wonder why San Francisco, an organization that relishes in taking these types of risks, wouldn’t offer the same for the former top pick.

Money matters. The 49ers would owe Okudah $5.18 million in 2023. According to Over the Cap, that’s $2.09 million more than the 49ers total cap space at the moment. So unless the front office was willing to move more money around, a deal wasn’t feasible.

Okudah is in the final year of his contract. Paying him $5.18 million to potentially ride the bench is bad business, as there’s no guarantee he’d start. Why? Well, Okudah was benched late in the year, but saw his snap count decrease after Week 10.

He battled an elbow injury late in the year, was coming off a season where he tore his Achilles against San Francisco in Week 1, and you could see that in his play. After Week 10, Okudah only played more than 65 percent of the snaps twice, and was benched against the Packers and Panthers.

His situation in Detroit was akin to what Ahkello Witherspoon went through in the Bay Area. We see the draft status and the initial reaction is, “why not us?” The juice wasn’t worth the squeeze, and the 49ers are already gambling on a player coming off a severe lower body injury in Isaiah Oliver.