The defending NFC champion San Francisco 49ers added to their dwindling 2020 NFL Draft war chest in last month’s blockbuster DeForest Buckner trade.
Prior to that move, San Francisco had one selection (31st overall) in the first four rounds. That’s due to the acquisitions of Dee Ford and Emmanuel Sanders over the past year-plus.
By picking up the 13th overall selection from Indianapolis in the Buckner trade, San Francisco now has endless possibilities to move down the draft board and amass extra assets. I am fully expecting that to be the case once the NFL Draft comes calling later this month.
In addition to this, multiple 49ers veterans have been bandied about on the trade block heading into the draft.
Here, I look at trade scenarios heading into the 2020 NFL Draft in less than two weeks.
First Round, 13th Pick
At first glance, it makes sense for general manager John Lynch and Co. to stand pat with the pick they acquired for Buckner. Multiple players at need positions will likely still be on the board.
Common logic suggests wide receiver will be a target after San Francisco lost Emmanuel Sanders in free agency. One of Jerry Jeudy, CeeDee Lamb or Henry Ruggs will likely be available with this pick.
Most recently, there’s been a growing belief that the 49ers might look to address offensive tackle as a way to find Joe Staley’s long-term replacement. Much like receiver, this position is stacked with as many as a half-dozen potential first-round picks. Tristan Wirfs (Iowa), Mekhi Becton (Louisville), Andrew Thomas (Georgia) and Jedrick Willis (Alabama) are all options.
Despite this, there’s a good chance San Francisco looks to move down from the 13th pick. In terms of the narrative surrounding the Buckner trade, that adds another layer to this. Whoever is selected with the pick acquired in said deal will be compared indirectly to one of the best interior defensive linemen in the NFL. Regardless of position, that’s a lot to ask from a young player.
Instead, San Francisco could follow the New England Patriots’ model of adding multiple assets from an initial trade. That’s what we saw from Bill Bilichick and Co. following the trade of Jimmy Garoppolo to the 49ers back in 2017.
There’s numerous potential options here. A quarterback-needy team might look to move up from the bottom half of the first round for Utah State’s Jordan Love after the first three quarterbacks likely go within the top-1o selections. Love has drawn comparisons to reigning NFL MVP Patrick Mahomes and is ascending the big board in a huge way.
Pure conjecture here, but the Las Vegas Raiders make sense with the second of their two Day 1 picks (19th overall). Jon Gruden and Co. have been linked to trade-up scenarios and are said to be high on Love.
A move from 13 to 19 would include San Francisco picking up a third and fourth-round pick from Las Vegas. This would give the team selections in two rounds it is currently without a pick.
Meanwhile, the 49ers would still likely be able to address a need position. Wide receivers potentially available at 19 include LSU’s Justin Jefferson and Denzel Mims from Baylor.
Another option would be to trade down further in the first round with a team that boasts multiple second-round selections. The Miami Dolphins, boasting three first-round picks and two second rounders could be an option.
Moving up from 26th overall to the 13th selection would give Miami three of the top 18 picks. It would also require the team handing over the second of its two second-round picks (56th overall and a third rounder (70th overall). The Fins have set themselves up well to ace the coming draft. If they are able to add a quarterback at five, moving up to 13 for a receiver or offensive tackle makes a ton of sense.
These are just two of multiple examples for San Francisco in potential trade-down scenarios from 13. Expect general manager John Lynch and Co. to use this asset to the best of their ability.
First Round, 31st Pick
The far more likely scenario for San Francisco is that it decides to keep the 13th pick and go best player available at a need position. If so, multiple sources close to the situation believe Lynch and Co. will undoubtedly move down from the 31st selection.
It makes sense in that this is a valuable pick. Teams moving back into the end of Round 1 would be able to draft a player who has a fifth-year contract option on his rookie deal. This is no small thing when it comes to the all-important quarterback position.
The Indianapolis Colts and Los Angeles Chargers are two teams to watch here. Both have stop-gap options at quarterback in that of Philip Rivers and Tyrod Taylor, respectively. Indy does not have a first-round pick stemming from the above-mentioned Buckner trade with San Francisco. Though, it does boast two second-round selections (34th and 44th overall). The Colts could offer up that second selection and a third rounder to move back into the first round for either Jalen Hurts or Jacob Eason.
As it relates to the Chargers, they could very well go quarterback with the sixth selection. The team has primarily been linked to Oregon’s Justin Herbert. But if the three top signal callers are off the board, Los Angeles will look in another direction. If so, trading the 37th overall pick and a fourth rounder to San Francisco could make sense.
Either way we spin it, San Francisco will not be selecting with its original first-round pick. You can pretty much take that to the bank.
Nick Mullens, Quarterback
It was noted earlier in April that San Francisco turned down multiple trade offers for its top backup quarterback. This is somewhat surprising given that the 49ers had put Mullens on the trade block ahead of the 2019 season.
Any move of this ilk would require the 49ers getting back at least a mid-round pick in exchange for the 25-year-old Mullens. He’s set to count just $750,000 against the cap in 2020 and had success as the 49ers’ starter back in 2018. Recouping the fourth-round pick they lost in the Emmanuel Sanders trade would have to be the absolute floor the 49ers receive in order to move Mullens.
Matt Breida, Running Back
Yet another player who has been placed on the trade block, Breida fell out of favor late last season due to fumble issues. Despite this, San Francisco placed a second-round tender on the restricted free agent. Breida, 25, will count $3.26 million against the cap in 2020.
He’s more than an intriguing option for teams that don’t want to exhaust a high-round pick on a running back. The former undrafted free agent has put up 2,463 total yards at a clip of 5.5 yards per touch in three NFL season. Much like Mullens, it would take a mid-round pick to pry him away from San Francisco. The Jets are among those interested in Breida.
Marquise Goodwin, Wide Receiver
Goodwin is one 49ers player who will more than likely be moved during the draft. It should come on Day 3 and include a sixth or seventh-round pick. San Francisco has pushed back against outright releasing the team’s injury-plagued former leading receiver. Other teams have shown interest. Boasting a smallish $4.91 million cap hit for next season, interest in Goodwin’s services will ramp up once the draft takes hold.
C.J. Beathard, Quarterback
If the 49ers do indeed hold on to Mullens this former third-round pick becomes a trade possibility. Would Beathard net San Francisco much in return? I am not too sure. The team is likely looking at a seventh-round pick as compensation. Either way, the 49ers are not going to hold on to three quarterbacks again next season. Beathard could be on his way out of town with general manager John Lynch admitting his mistake.
San Francisco currently has seven picks heading into the 2020 NFL Draft in less than two weeks. The defending NFC champs will make more selections than that.
Whether it’s moving one of their two first-round picks in a trade-down scenario, trading veterans or a combination of the two, it would be surprising if the 49ers don’t make 10-plus picks come draft time.
They have capital in the 13th and 31st picks. The players I mentioned above will draw varying levels of interest.
With the draft set to take place in a virtual format due to the COVID-19 pandemic plaguing the United States right now, it was already going to be interesting. Add in the fact that San Francisco will be active on the trade market, and that’s magnified further.
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