The 49ers Should Make a Draft Day Trade, but Not in the Direction You Think

Mar 17, 2015 at 9:36 PM13

For fans hoping for the San Francisco 49ers to trade up for a top tier player on April 30, you may need to re-examine what is best for the team. It's understandable to want to best player within reach, but that may not always be the most beneficial move for a team. You want that star power. That one guy that can come in and electrify and rejuvenate his position. However, the bigger picture should be addressed. Many fans want the team to stay put at the number 15 spot or even move up if they can. With recent events, the 49ers should make a draft day trade, but perhaps it should be in the other direction.

If the opportunity were to present itself, the 49ers should seriously consider trading down and not up. It's something that they have not been afraid to do in the past. A mass exodus by free agents, retirements by linebackers Patrick Willis and Chris Borland, a likely retirement by defensive lineman Justin Smith, troubles with the law for the team's fullback, and other issues have severely hurt the team's depth. The 49ers need bodies immediately to field a competitive team. They may need to look at acquiring multiple solid contributors as opposed to just one outstanding player.

Last year, the team passed up on trading up for wide receiver Odell Beckham, deeming the price too high. The roster was seemingly loaded so the team may have been able to do so and still seemed ok. Injuries during the season would hurt the team, but that would have happened anyway. It was a freakishly odd season, almost as bizarre as the current offseason. Beckham would have been a nice addition, but it alone may not have saved the 49ers' season.

This year, if that top tier player were to fall to the 49ers, should they take him or see how much another team might give up in order to acquire him themselves? What has more value? Is it the 15th overall pick or a lower first round pick and the addition of another second? If there are still players on the 49ers' draft board that they feel can come in and contribute immediately, they may be willing to move down. How far should they move down? Should they move down to the end of the round? No. No one is saying that. But they may be able to afford to move down a handful of spots for more selections in the following rounds. They would increase their odds of finding another diamond in the rough. After all, first round picks are no guarantees themselves.

They partially addressed their need at wide receiver. While they lost Stevie Johnson and don't appear to have a desire to bring back Michael Crabtree, they added Torrey Smith from the Baltimore Ravens who can help the team stretch the field and provide the deep threat that the 49ers have lacked for some time. They'll still need to draft a receiver for a little more depth.

At running back, they lost Frank Gore, but are hopeful that the trio of Carlos Hyde, Kendall Hunter, and newly signed Reggie Bush can fill that hole. Bush's career has been plagued with injury, but being part of a trio may help alleviate that. However, don't assume Bush will make the team if he 49ers draft someone that impresses in training camp.

Along the offensive line, the team thought ahead and planned for the departure of guard Mike Iupati. They have a good replacement in 2014 third round draft pick Brandon Thomas. The first-team All-ACC selection brings size, quickness, and athleticism to the position. His pass-blocking skills could turn out to be an upgrade as well. He only fell to the third round because of an ACL injury that dropped his stock. The 49ers were able to select him and bank on the fact that he would contribute down the road. That is looking like a brilliant move now. Want to know more about Thomas? Beat writer Ryan Sakamoto wrote an excellent piece about him on Monday. Give it a read.

The defense, once the shining star of this 49ers team, is starting to crack. The team needs to move soon in order to patch those cracks sooner rather than later. However, they still have players that can fill in as starters. For instance, Ahmad Brooks has played linebacker inside. He is a candidate to replace Borland — who was replacing Willis. Hopefully NaVorro Bowman can return from injury. If he can't, that is when things could get really bad for the linebacker position. Once the strength of the defense, the linebacker position will need to be addressed in the draft. A solid inside linebacker addition would allow Brooks to stay on the outside.

Another tidbit brought up by beat writer Matt Barrows regarding Brooks moving inside...

Along the defensive line, the 49ers have newly signed Darnell Dockett and youngster Tank Carradine, who showed flashes of solid play during his appearances in 2014, ready to fill in for Justin Smith and Ray McDonald.

Cornerback should be a big concern, but the 49ers are use to turnover at that position and general manager Trent Baalke has made it clear that he is confident in the players that will fill in for the losses of Chris Culliver and Perrish Cox. The NFL Draft and potential cuts from other teams could help solidify this position. The team brought in former San Diego Charger Shareece Wright, who they hope can finally live up to his potential. They also re-signed Chris Cook, who played well for the 49ers in 2014 before suffering a season ending injury.

The 49ers may no longer have the luxury of of selecting injured players in the draft like they did with Thomas. That will likely need to stop. They need players that can contribute immediately, even as backups.

The key for success in 2015 will be to stay healthy. While the starting lineup may be more solid (more or less) than some think, the 49ers may lack the depth it has enjoyed over the past few years. As far as injuries go, the 49ers can't afford a repeat of 2014 and expect to remain competitive. A massive number of injuries this year would be far more damaging than it was last year.

If the 49ers can't fill all of their needs through the draft, the team still has some salary cap space available and may look toward the June 1 cuts to make some moves. Don't panic if every hole isn't addressed immediately. No matter how bad things seem now, teams don't win football games in March. There is still a lot of offseason left and numerous opportunities for the team to improve.
The views within this article are those of the writer and, while just as important, are not necessarily those of the site as a whole.


  • mooseman
    Deepthreat88, No disrespect to Frank. He has most of the rushing records,worked hard,and had a awesome career. My point is that Carlos Hyde made plays last year that Frank just could not do. Frank made some nice highlight plays... that were great. But Hyde is younger, bigger, stronger and faster. And cheaper. Barring any injury he will put up great numbers. He can catch with ease and his pass blocking is good. He was one of the most complete backs coming out of college. I will miss Frank the Tank ,but my point is we are replacing him with very good rb. watch him next year. Peace
    Mar 19, 2015 at 9:00 PM
  • Deepthreat88
    Mooseman, Hyde was better than Gore? You've lost your mind. Carlos needs to learn patience and pass blocking before he can even be considered in the same league. Hyde May be as productive as Gore in a few years, but not next year, and he will never put up the career numbers Frank did.
    Mar 19, 2015 at 8:13 PM
  • mooseman
    Your article is on point. Most of the other sites(bleacher report) have morons writing articles.They have no clue. Now for my thoughts. Unless someone slides to 15 yes, trade back for an additional pick. You are so correct, to build a team is quality 2nd ad 3rd choices. These are building blocks to champions. Everybody is counting us out next year,but we will fool them all. Here is why(please be objective) Everybody we lost on offense will be replaced by better players......period no debate. As a season ticket holder I watched and rewatched every game. Hyde is better than Frank Gore. He made plays Frank could not. Torrey Smith will open up our offense,just like Randy Moss did.Brandon Thomas will be better than Mike Iupati.Combine all of this with a much more creative coaching staff,I can tell you for sure we will score 6 to 7 more points per game. However we will need those points,because of the defense. But wait ..... here is when it gets interesting. we will have a shitload of players coming back from IR (Brock,Bowman,Williams,Dorsey and a head on straight Aldon Smith)plus, we have three of last years draft picks ready to play( Ramsey, Ackers and Reasor).
    Mar 18, 2015 at 11:35 PM
  • RonMexico
    clickbait title
    Mar 18, 2015 at 3:20 PM
    Response: Do you read a lot of articles where the titles discourage views? The title applies to the article, but maybe I'll title the next one "Pictures of my feet" anyway. Say hi to Ellen for me.
  • arceo
    Terrible point by saying we wanted to trade up for Odell Beckham but the price was too high. Well they look to have found an absolute star in Beckham and those are few and far between.Trading down (out of our first round picks) is what the norm was when we were in the dark days, why return to that style.
    Mar 18, 2015 at 8:45 AM
  • Jacob
    Nice Article. Hopefully, Shane Skov can fill the 3rd linebacker position. He has been working with the niners in the practice squad.
    Mar 18, 2015 at 8:34 AM
  • Craig
    Absolutely! If we can trade down to the 20-35 range and get another second too then if there is another first rounder worth getting package the 2's to move back into the first. Win, win. Otherwise the addition of another body affords us the opportunity to pick another 3rd round talent. Baalke is very adept at picking the right talent in the middle rounds. There is not 1 person in this draft that will fix our team on all fronts. We need numbers to compete
    Mar 18, 2015 at 7:35 AM
  • matt
    Trade down? not a chance - trade up trading down guarantees players with uncertain futures I'd rather have 1 guaranteed high qaulity starters than 5 maybes
    Mar 18, 2015 at 6:45 AM
  • Darrell G
    Thank you for some sanity. I can't help but shake my head sometimes at all the virtual GMs that think the real world works like Madden. If they can trade down and scoop up some extra picks in 1-4 this year or next, it's a bit of a no brainer.
    Mar 18, 2015 at 6:29 AM
  • RishikeshA
    Thanks David, I think you're right about trading down but if someone like Danny Shelton is there at 15 shouldn't the 49ers pull the trigger? We will see if Baalke can put together a solid team or if Harbaugh was the reason we were so good.
    Mar 18, 2015 at 4:29 AM
  • zach Ameen
    Baalke goes for the need, not for the quality and the best player available.
    Mar 17, 2015 at 11:10 PM
  • Frank M
    David, Excellent article...nice to read some positive views for a change. While the team's lost vets via FA and retirement, because Baalke's been stacking the roster with good players there's reason for hope. He's done a good job signing FA's and can hopefully add CB Sterling Moore this week. He looks ready for prime time and is only 25. I know he likes Stephone Anthony...and there are a number of other very good ILB's in the draft. Ditto CB's, RB's & DL. I look for a good deal of wheeling & dealing in Chicago, as he works to refill the team's depth. I have faith he'll succeed.
    Mar 17, 2015 at 11:01 PM
  • art lomax
    I like the idea of brooks moving to the inside. An having the rookie from last year rush full time. Him and aldon smith present problems for opposing qbs.
    Mar 17, 2015 at 9:57 PM

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