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Roundtable: Stealing one non-QB from another roster to help the 49ers win Super Bowl LV

Jul 14, 2020 at 4:01 PM0

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The San Francisco 49ers are gearing up to embark on their "Legendary Revenge Tour." Of course, that is assuming the current pandemic allows them to do so. The journey won't be easy. The Niners won't take anyone by surprise this year. Every opponent will be looking to prove itself against the defending NFC champions.

What would make that journey back to the mountaintop easier? The 49ers Webzone staff was asked to identify one non-quarterback to steal off any NFL roster for just one season who could help San Francisco win Super Bowl LV.

Below are the responses in the order in which they were received.

Levin T. Black
RB Christian McCaffrey, Panthers

The answer I bet most go with is a wide receiver, but I really don't think it's needed. Plus, if you factor in learning the offense, the benefit wouldn't be as great. I was going to say Aaron Donald because having him on a defensive line with Nick Bosa, Arik Armstead, and Dee Ford would be the makings for the best front four in NFL history.

I didn't go with Donald, however. Instead, I'm adding Christian McCaffrey. He, more so than a receiver, would make the offense an absolute juggernaut. Just imagine the plays head coach Kyle Shanahan would draw up with him.

Matt Andruscavage
WR DeAndre Hopkins, Cardinals

While the 49ers are currently as strong as any team in the NFL heading into 2020, they will be asking a couple of rookies to fill some big shoes left behind by DeForest Buckner and Emmanuel Sanders. For this scenario, it is certainly tempting to want to grab two-time Defensive Player of the Year Aaron Donald away from the Rams and put him on an already dominant defensive line. Yes, it would be epic. However, I'm going to go with wide receiver DeAndre Hopkins. Not only does it hurt the up and coming Arizona Cardinals, but it gives the 49ers that proven number one receiver who strikes fear into defenses.

Hopkins is dependable on third down, can go over the middle, and can also be used in the deep passing game. George Kittle would no longer be double-teamed, and players like Deebo Samuel and rookie Brandon Aiyuk would be free to roam. Hopkins on the 49ers would simply be unfair and would boost what was already a top-five offense into an offense that would mirror their defense in the dominance category.

I trust the defense to be able to largely duplicate what it was able to do last year, and that includes Richard Sherman, who was a top-15 player in the league last year. The defense will be getting D.J. Jones and Ronald Blair back on the defensive line, the linebackers are as good as any group in the league, and the secondary has several rising stars who will only improve. Give San Francisco Hopkins, and it's a wrap.

Matthew Barr
CB Stephon Gilmore, Patriots

The 49ers own one of the most talented rosters in the NFL. The three spots that stick out as weaknesses are interior offensive line, wide receiver, and cornerback. I chose to go with the latter and went with the consensus top corner in the league. Gilmore would immediately put the 49ers defense on the same level as some of the all-time greatest defenses. He has been named to a First Team All-Pro in back to back seasons and led the league in both interceptions and pass deflections. Lining up Gilmore across from Richard Sherman with the 49ers pass rush is something that fans can only dream of.

Nick Newman
DT Aaron Donald, Rams

Donald would vastly improve the 49ers run defense, and would add to an already strong pass rush. The combination of Bosa, Ford, Armstead, Kinlaw, and Donald would, without a doubt, be the best pass rush the league has seen in quite some time.

A strong pass rush helps out the secondary, and the addition of Donald would help ensure the 49ers secondary plays at just as high of a level as last year.

Other players I considered were: Christian McCaffrey, DeAndre Hopkins, Julio Jones, Khalil Mack, and Stephon Gilmore. At the end of the day, getting to the quarterback is what's most important. Donald does that exceptionally well. Bosa, Ford, and Donald would be unstoppable.

Jason Aponte
CB Stephon Gilmore, Patriots

Considering how good the 49ers pass rush was last season, adding the best cover corner in the game is a no brainer. Gilmore tied for the league lead in interceptions and ranked 24th in the league for allowed receptions with 47 on 96 targets (7th in the league). Save for one bad game against Devante Parker and the Dolphins in Week 17, Gilmore was flawless. Imagine the luxury of having the best corner duo in the league with a pass rush that doesn't force its cornerbacks to cover for long. The defensive scheme can become easier to layout knowing Gilmore can cover up any sort of protection or defensive lapses. Add Gilmore to the team, and the sixth Lombardi goes up with relative ease.

Brian Renick
DT Aaron Donald, Rams

The defensive line is already the strength of the defense, but just imagining the havoc that a rotation of Bosa, Donald, Kinlaw, D.J. Jones, Armstead, and Ford would wreak on any offense gives me goosebumps and makes me giggle uncontrollably. Any perceived weakness on the back-end would be covered by the fact that a quarterback would have three seconds, tops, to get rid of the ball. Imagine the same play to Tyreek Hill in the Super Bowl trying to develop with Donald and Co. bearing down on Mahomes, and it's easy to see why Donald makes the defense better than my second choice, Stephon Gilmore.

Bret Rumbeck
OG Quenton Nelson, Colts

There are days I have come to grips with the fact that head coach Kyle Shanahan does not value guards in his offense. After watching film, I lose that zen feeling and demand he finally adds guard Quenton Nelson to the interior.

Quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo suffered the most hits, hurries, and pressures from defenders running through left guard Laken Tomlinson and right guard Mike Person. Combined, Tomlinson and Person allowed ten hits, 50 hurries, and 64 pressures.

Adding Nelson would strengthen the weakest position group on the 49ers' roster, and provide Garoppolo more time in the pocket to find his second or third read.

Don Atkinson
WR Julio Jones, Falcons

The long-haul approach might look very different, but in a hypothetical "one-season only" scenario, it's hard to pass up a big-time receiver like Jones, and here's why:

Second-year 49ers wideout Deebo Samuel looks primed to have an even bigger season than last year, which would make him one of the league's brightest stars. But a total bounce back from his recent foot injury, classified as a Jones fracture, isn't easy and will almost certainly delay his progress as the 49ers' number one receiver. There's no likelihood, in fact, that he will return to top form for at least the first half of the season. Rookie Brandon Aiyuk will certainly need at least eight games of seasoning himself before he's ready to step up into a full starting role. That leaves clutch receiver Kendrick Bourne and a handful of relative question marks suiting up to shag passes from quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo through, minimally, the first eight games. If that makes you uneasy, it should.

Heading into his tenth year in the NFL, Jones is still at the top of his game, and his ability to make big plays would be the elixir the 49ers would need to propel them to a second straight Super Bowl appearance in a year in which perhaps their best receiver will be recovering and their newest will be developing. Allowing Aiyuk to learn from Jones in the rookie's first season would be a massive secondary benefit.

Christian Fernandes
DT Aaron Donald, Rams

The defensive line would be absolutely unstoppable with Bosa, Ford, Jones, and Armstead (not to mention Kinlaw). This will cover up any weaknesses in the secondary as well, with the QB having less time to throw.

Allan McBride
WR Julio Jones, Falcons

If I could steal one non-QB player to help the 49ers win Super Bowl LV, that player would be wide receiver Julio Jones. The main reason being, the 49ers' wide receiver group has the most uncertainty heading into the 2020 season. The group has a lot of potential, and I think it will be fun to watch, but I also expect it to go through a few growing pains throughout the season. Will Deebo Samuel be healthy to start the season? Will rookie Brandon Aiyuk be able to adjust to NFL defenses? Can Kendrick Bourne, Jalen Hurd, or Trent Taylor step up and become viable receiving options for Jimmy Garoppolo? If one or more of these things fails to happen, that could be disastrous for the 49ers' chances of getting back to the Super Bowl. Kyle Shanahan's offense relies on a strong running game and an efficient passing game to keep defenses guessing.

For the last decade, Julio Jones has been regarded as one of the best wide receivers in the NFL, and he doesn't appear to be slowing down as he is coming off his sixth consecutive season with at least 1,300 yards receiving. Jones would give the 49ers a true No. 1 receiver who would put more stress on opposing defenses. An elite superstar like Jones will change the dynamic of any offense. Additionally, if you only have one season, the player will need to be able to step into the offensive system and make an immediate impact. Jones has already proven he can thrive in Shanahan's offense, as he had his career-best receiving yards (1,871) in 2015 with Shanahan as his offensive coordinator. There are a variety of superstars who could help the 49ers, but a player like Jones would solidify the roster and help the 49ers finally hoist their sixth Lombardi trophy.

Justin Wong
CB Stephon Gilmore, Patriots

The San Francisco 49ers boast one of the league's best front seven defenses in the NFL, but as evidenced in their final game of last season, it's becoming increasingly important to address the back end of the defense. Pro Football Focus has actually argued that in recent years, the pass defense is more important than a pass rush. Having said that, could you imagine this 49ers defense if it was able to add last season's Defensive Player of the Year in New England Patriots cornerback Stephon Gilmore?

At 29 years old, Gilmore is in his prime. He's coming off his best season with 53 tackles, 20 passes defended, and a league-leading six interceptions. For fun, it's worth noting that Gilmore was only one of four players who made the Madden 99 rating club. If the 49ers were to feature Gilmore starting alongside Richard Sherman with K'Waun Williams at nickelback, you arguably have the best secondary in football. The likes of Ahkello Witherspoon and Emanuel Moseley coming alongside the depth chart would be a staggering thought. I trust Kyle Shanahan to maintain a top-10 offense while an elite pass defense would ensure the 49ers will be primed and ready to close out the big game.

Michael Cataldo
CB Stephon Gilmore, Patriots

Adding last year's DPOY is the move. Allowing downfield plays was San Francisco's downfall in the Super Bowl and this move would certainly reduce them.

Chris Wilson
DT Aaron Donald, Rams

Given the 49ers' current roster, there are four directions San Francisco could potentially go with their authorized player theft — and not surprisingly, these positions are the highest-valued non-QB positions in football: CB, WR, OL, and DL. LBs do rank within the top-5, but not the type of linebacker used in the Niners' defensive system; and it wasn't an oversight — there are no RBs to be found on this list.

A top-tier cornerback, while perhaps providing the greatest instant impact, would be the most problematic choice. In this scenario, opposing teams would simply attack Sherman, while E-Man and Witherspoon would be relegated to the sideline during the final season of their contracts. An elite corner could be the best option for the 2020 Niners, but the worst move for the team moving forward. A wide receiver stands out as the easiest option. Still, with Shanahan's history of failing to feature top wideouts in his offense — or cover them on defense — this situation would likely end in frustration by both the receiver and "The Faithful."

That leaves us with the two boring, yet essential, position groups: the offensive and defensive lines. The 49ers' blocking failures played a significant role in San Francisco's Super Bowl loss. However, the team's deficiency is on the interior, not the exterior of the line. Shanahan cares little about the guard position, which could be upgraded with ease, and there are far too many top-tier athletes to consider before a center even enters the equation.

So, we're left with one major position group — the defensive line — which is comprised of significantly different types of players. No one would complain if the 49ers stole an elite edge rusher, but with the capital the Niners spent on Nick Bosa, Dee Ford, and Arik Armstead, San Francisco won't be Super Bowl-bound unless these three players excel in 2020.

So, my 49ers player theft is…...defensive lineman Aaron Donald — a versatile plug-and-play 10-sack interior lineman who plays the run as well as he does the pass.

Our theft of Donald wouldn't just remove him from an NFC-West rival (the Rams do still have to pay him, right?), it would also make the San Francisco 49ers the immediate favorites to bring the Lombardi back to its rightful home after Super Bowl 55.
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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