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The 49ers Are Better Off Passing on Adams and Sticking with Tartt as Things Sit Right Now

Levin T. Black
Jul 13, 2020 at 6:00 AM


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(This is a follow up to an earlier article that explained the 49ers can afford Jamal Adams)

Just because something can be acquired doesn't mean it should be. That is my stance when it comes to the idea of the San Francisco 49ers trading for the New York Jets' Jamal Adams.

The 49ers have the capital needed to acquire Adams between the team's draft capital and current players. On some levels it make sense to do what it takes to add the All-Pro player but ultimately the team shouldn't.

Incumbent strong safety Jaquiski Tartt is a free agent following the 2020 season. The 49ers have likely inquired about what kind of extension Tartt is seeking. The lack of news on that is a sign the two parties are not on the same page. It is certainly possible, with the way this 49ers front office has kept things quiet, that the two are close to an extension but it seems very unlikely.

It is also possible the 49ers prefer a cheaper, younger option at the position after this season and have simply not pursued an extension with Tartt. That is not to say Tartt isn't a quality player. He's a good starter who falls just short of being great.

The biggest hindrance to a long-term extension could be Tartt's injury history. He has missed at least four games in each of the past three seasons and 19 total in that time frame. Tartt plays a very physical position and is headed into his late-20s. Signing him to multi-year deal seems too high of a risk at this juncture.

I can see why fans, and even some 49ers players, are excited by the opportunity to add Adams. He is not only better than Tartt, he's younger and a safer bet to pay big money to in an extension.

My hang up in this enticing proposition is simply salary cap allocation. The 49ers can not afford to pay their entire defense top dollar. They have already given out big contracts to multiple players on the defensive line (Dee Ford, Arik Armstead), a linebacker (Kwon Alexander), and a corner (Richard Sherman) and free safety Jimmie Ward just signed a decent sized extension (13th highest paid safety in league).

Adding to this is the escalating salary, due to being taken No. 2 overall, of Nick Bosa, an extension for Fred Warner next year and an extension or replacement for Sherman next year as well. That's just the defensive side. Obviously the offense also has some big names due for extensions (George Kittle and Trent Williams are the biggest two).

The 49ers could trade for and pay Adams but it means being unable to afford someone else. I'm not completely against the idea. Adams is truly a dynamic player. Adding him to the 49ers defense gives it a chance to be an all-time great defense with good health in 2020.

Yes, the 49ers can shed Alexander's big contract next year with a manageable dead cap hit. That alone probably isn't enough, though. Ford is also an option for cap savings next offseason but he carries a bit higher dead cap penalty.

The 49ers can make it work with an Adams extension. They would, without a doubt, be better in 2020. Past 2020 is questionable and that really is my issue.

The 49ers can stick with Tartt and still be a strong favorite in the NFC this year and then enter the draft as one of the few teams without a glaring hole. This would allow them to target a safety early.

Safety has also been a position with veteran bargains late in the free agency period. Tre Boston is the prime example of a quality vet safety signed to a multi-year deal at a discounted rate.

I prefer the 49ers to hold their ground ... for now. Maybe, if Adams truly holds out, the ability to swindle the Jets develops in the future.

The safety position has seen its value rise considerably in recent years so maybe I'm behind the times, but I simply don't view the position as valuable enough to spend top dollar on. This is one of the advantages of having a dominant pass rush. You don't need as great of a secondary.

There is a belief system out there that any time you can add a true game-changer, you do it. I get it. I'm not totally opposed to this line of thinking. I don't view this specific scenario as a black and white, must do it or it's a mistake to do it.

The 49ers are in a good position whether they trade for Adams or not. I will say, I have no interest in seeing Adams twice a year on the Seattle Seahawks. Maybe trading for him is the right move after all, if only to keep him away from that ugly green and blue.

Call me a fence sitter if you want. There isn't a definite correct position to every sports topic. As a columnist I'm supposed to find one and defend it. I prefer to stay true to my beliefs rather than take up a position I don't truly support.

Maybe that's why I still have a day job and do this on the side. I do accept donations though. You can reach me on Twitter.
The opinions within this article are those of the writer and, while just as important, are not necessarily those of the site as a whole.


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