With so many needs heading into the 2019 offseason and a shortage of draft picks, it seems ridiculous to think the San Francisco 49ers should trade away the No. 2 overall pick for anything outside of a young and proven pass rusher or a significant haul of draft picks as compensation. They can certainly find a skilled pass rusher at their current draft spot come April.

One Hall of Fame receiver believes the prospect of pairing Pittsburgh Steelers wideout Antonio Brown with head coach Kyle Shanahan is worth more than the No. 2 pick. Michael Irvin, formerly of the Dallas Cowboys and now an analyst with NFL Network, joined 95.7 The Game on Monday and was asked if general manager John Lynch and the 49ers should trade their top selection for the Steelers' disgruntled veteran receiver.

The question itself might have seemed odd given the value of the selection. Then Irvin responded.

"Immediately. Immediately," Irvin told Damon Bruce as he started to laugh. "Let me say it again. Immediately."

He clearly likes the idea of Brown working within Shanahan's offense.

"This is Antonio Brown," Irvin continued. "Are we hearing this right? My body shivers and shakes at the thought of Antonio Brown with Kyle Shanahan. Antonio Brown is not a problem. He's not a problem. He's never been a problem.

"Let me tell you what's going on in Pittsburgh. He's never been a problem, but he's seeing what's going on in Pittsburgh just like everybody else is seeing what's going on."

Irvin goes on to point out the rift between Brown and quarterback Ben Roethlisberger being an issue in Pittsburgh. He believes the Steelers are more invested in keeping their quarterback happy at the expense of other players like Brown.

"There's the problem that's going on in Pittsburgh right now," Irvin said. "That's the problem. Ben Roethlisberger is above everybody, and you will never win that way. You will never win telling people, 'Come on, get behind me.' You've got to win telling people, 'Come on, I'm with you.' We're all together going at something."

Irvin also loves the idea of Brown taking the field with George Kittle, who this past season set the single-season record for the most receiving yards by a tight end.

"The most difficult thing to stop on a football field is the combination of a great tight end and a great wide receiver," Irvin added. "It's better than having two great wide receivers. (With) the combination of a great tight end and a great wide receiver, you're almost unstoppable because I can do so many things with it."

Irvin loves the potential Kittle-Brown pairing so much that he implores the 49ers to do whatever is necessary to make the trade for Brown.

You can listen to the entire conversation with Irvin below. The portion about Brown kicks off at about the 16:20 mark.


The Steelers would likely take that trade in a heartbeat. While Brown is an elite receiver who is a four-time first-team All-Pro and seven-time Pro Bowl selection, he will be 31 years old by the start of the 2019 season. You have to wonder how many more playing years he has ahead of him. Brown certainly addresses a need for the 49ers, but with the relationship between him and the Steelers crumbling, teams may not need to overspend to acquire his services.

Perhaps swapping first-round selections might not be out of the question. The Steelers currently own the No. 20 spot in the draft order. However, that would be a significant first-round drop for San Francisco, a team that has just 10 wins over the past two seasons.

Given his recent activity on social media, there is no doubt that Brown loves the idea of playing for Shanahan and the 49ers. Or perhaps he loves the idea of not playing in Pittsburgh anymore and has focused on an NFL team with an obvious need he can fill.

ESPN insider Chris Mortensen reported on Sunday morning that the Steelers would likely trade the receiver before the start of the new league year. Of course, any trade scenario would be an agreement in principle with nothing becoming official until March 13.

Ian Rapoport of NFL Network reported on Saturday that the Steelers are expected to begin listening to trade offers for Brown.

"They have not closed the door on the thought of Brown playing for someone else, provided they could receive adequate compensation," wrote Rapoport.

He added, "The deadline for a deal would be the $2.5 million roster bonus Brown is due on the third day of the league year. If the Steelers trade him, it would save $1 million in salary cap space (roughly $22 million to keep him, $21 million cap hit to deal him) and create $15 million in cash savings."

The Antonio Brown saga has just started and we will likely continue to hear his name linked to NFL teams outside of Pittsburgh, like the 49ers, for at least another two months.

Poll

  • Would you trade the No. 2 overall pick for Antonio Brown
  • Yes
  • No way