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Dianna Russini: 49ers looking to add “a few pieces” at trade deadline

Marc Adams
Oct 28, 2023 at 11:57 AM--

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According to Dianna Russini, Senior NFL insider for The Athletic, the San Francisco 49ers are working the phones as we approach the NFL trade deadline, in an effort to add more pieces to their championship run. In her latest column for The Athletic, Russini says she's heard, "The 49ers are looking to add a few pieces like edge rusher and cornerback. They are working the phones." The NFL trade deadline is 4 p.m. ET (1 p.m. PT) on Tuesday.

While it's unlikely the 49ers will make splash moves at multiple positions, Russini's wording, that the 49ers are looking to add "a few pieces" is interesting. Are they looking to add multiple players? Or are they simply looking at multiple positions, knowing they can only add one player?

Edge rusher and cornerback, two positions Russini mentioned, are the two positions at which the 49ers need the most help. The 49ers' pass rush has not been as effective in recent weeks. On Monday night, they failed to sack Vikings QB Kirk Cousins even once. Lack of pass rush can also have a profound effect on pass coverage, as seen on Monday night when 49ers corners Charvarius Ward, Deommodore Lenoir, and Isaiah Oliver struggled at times with Minnesota pass catchers.

The 49ers have already added an edge rusher, Randy Gregory, in a trade with the Denver Broncos earlier this month. Gregory has been splitting snaps with second-year player Drake Jackson. Gregory has, in fact, played more than Jackson has since he was traded to the 49ers.

But Gregory isn't the impact pass rusher the 49ers are looking for. The team has been hoping for a dynamic pass rusher to play on the opposite side of Nick Bosa for the last few seasons. In 2019 the 49ers signed Dee Ford to play on the other side of Bosa. Ford struggled through injuries, but when he played, was dynamic, and the 49ers' pass rush was unblockable. But since Ford left the 49ers, the team has been unable to find that impact player.

The Washington Commanders are apparently listening to offers on edge rushers, Chase Young and Montez Sweat. Per Russini, Washington is hoping for a second-round pick for each, but so far has only received offers in the third-round range. Some 49ers fans have been hoping the team would trade for Carolina star Brian Burns, but Russini says the Panthers are planning on keeping the pass rusher.

It remains to be seen if the 49ers are looking to add a frontline starter at cornerback, or if they're simply looking for depth. According to Russini, "The Broncos are not open to trading cornerback Patrick Surtain II." This news is sure to come as a disappointment to many 49ers fans. The coaching staff and front office seem to be high on Ward and Lenoir, but there isn't much depth behind them.

NFL Analysts, Bucky Brooks, and Daniel Jeremiah, recently suggested, on the "Move the Sticks" podcast, that the 49ers could make a bold move at the trade deadline. Jeremiah said, "I think they do something big. They're all in right now...We talked about wideouts, maybe somebody that can take the top off. Is that [Broncos WR] Courtland [Sutton]? Is that [Broncos WR] Jerry Jeudy? I don't know. Is there somebody bigger out there?" Brooks and Jeremiah also mentioned Burns for the defense.

The Philadelphia Eagles have already made a move, strengthening their secondary, by bringing in safety Kevin Byard. The Eagles (6-1) are currently a game ahead of the 49ers (5-2) in the race for the number-one seed in the NFC. San Francisco would like to avoid going back to Philadelphia in late January.

The 49ers have previously shown a willingness to make big moves within the season. In 2017, they traded for quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo. In 2019, the 49ers acquired wide receiver Emmanuel Sanders. And last season, of course, the team traded for running back Christian McCaffrey. Each of those trades worked out well for the 49ers.

Who will be next?

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