2016 NFL Draft: The San Francisco 49ers Shouldn’t Trade Up to No. 1 Overall
By Peter Panacy
The San Francisco 49ers own a total of 12 picks in the upcoming 2016 NFL Draft, and they could make a move to the No. 1 spot overall. But doing so would not be in the Niners’ best interests.
The San Francisco 49ers currently sit with the seventh overall pick — one of 12 total — in the upcoming 2016 NFL Draft. And there may be some thoughts to suggest general manager Trent Baalke could be interested in trading up to the No. 1 spot in Round 1.
The Tennessee Titans currently own that selection. And, coming off a 3-13 season, they’ll need all the help they can get to turn their struggling franchise around in 2016. Netting additional picks via a trade down from the first selection would be a perfect way to land more prospects.
But the 49ers shouldn’t be the team enticed enough to swap positions and send off additional picks to make up the difference.
There are more than enough reasons why Baalke and the 49ers should simply stay put at No. 7.
To understand this, let’s set up the context for a bit and see why it could happen in the first place and, more importantly, what it would take to make such a trade happen.
San Francisco’s 12 picks fall between Round 1 through 6. Four of these picks are compensatory and cannot be traded. Yet the remaining selections do provide an ample amount of ammunition with which to be aggressive if there’s a player Baalke feels won’t slip any lower and is a must-have prospect from the Niners’ vantage point.
But the bulk of the 49ers’ picks fall between Rounds 4, 5 and 6 — nine in these rounds, to be precise.
Before we jump into what it would take, let’s establish the why.
It doesn’t take much research to find some interest the Niners may have in drafting a quarterback in the NFL Draft. Cal’s Jared Goff and North Dakota State’s Carson Wentz are widely considered to be the top-two prospects available at this position.
Given San Francisco’s own concerns under center heading into 2016, it makes sense the 49ers would consider landing a quarterback at some point in the draft, right?
Doing so earlier would, upon initial review, suggest the Niners would land more of a pro-ready QB instead of a “project type” to be had later on in the draft itself.
If Goff and Wentz are both on San Francisco’s radar, and it’s silly to assume they’re not at all, one would have to wonder whether or not either one would be available to the 49ers at No. 7. The only problem is there are number of teams drafting ahead of the Niners and potentially interested in a quarterback as well.
The Titans already have a franchise signal-caller in Marcus Mariota. So, barring some blockbuster deal, Tennessee isn’t much of a concern to the 49ers’ preconceived plans.
But the Cleveland Browns — at No. 2 overall — are likely in the market after parting ways with embattled QB Johnny Manziel and in spite of signing Robert Griffin III. And the Browns are rumored to have serious interest in Wentz, per Bleacher Report’s Matt Miller.
This, potentially, crosses off one quarterback from the Niners’ watch list. The wild card in the mix lies with the Dallas Cowboys — at No. 4 overall — who may be interested in a long-term option to replace oft-injured veteran Tony Romo at some point down the road.
So, if Dallas elects to draft Goff, the 49ers would be out of luck if they truly wanted the Cal product or Wentz, should he land in Cleveland.
Let’s assume, for a moment, the Niners are intent on drafting a quarterback first. And if the above scenario is to play out as predicted, what would it take for San Francisco to move up to the top spot?
For reference, we’ll use Walter Football’s draft value chart to give us an idea of each NFL Draft pick value.
The No. 1 overall pick is worth 3,000 points, according to the chart. San Francisco’s current Round 1 selection (No. 7) is worth 1,500 points, which would mean Baalke would have to make up the difference of the same amount — 1,500 points in this case.
You can do the math and come up with a variety of scenarios in which a trade would net the 49ers the first overall selection. And you can even throw in picks in 2017 and beyond to make it more interesting.
To simplify things a bit, let’s take a look at what CBS Sports’ Dane Brugler put together to make a possible trade happen:
What it would likely take to trade to No. 1:
- 2016 first round pick (No. 7)
- 2016 second round pick (No. 37)
- 2016 third round pick (No. 68)
Even that math doesn’t totally add up, but it doesn’t eliminate the possibility altogether. Remember, the 2013 first-round trade which netted the 49ers safety Eric Reid only cost the 49ers their own first-round pick along with a Round 3 selection, and the numbers didn’t add up then either.
But Brugler described why the decision may be a bad one:
"The haul of picks to trade up to No. 1 would likely take San Francisco out of the draft until day three, surrendering their top-three picks in the draft. The idea of securing the best quarterback is enticing, but there is still a chance Goff (or Wentz) could fall to them at No. 7."
Remember, the 49ers have only their own picks in Rounds 1 through 3. Despite being a relatively deep draft class, especially on defense, is it really feasible to see San Francisco part ways with nearly the first 25 percent of their current draft stock.
If the Niners only had a handful of needs to address in this year’s draft, acting so aggressively may not be that bad of an idea.
But this 49ers team is also coming off a disappointing season and, at 5-11, the Niners of a year ago are in full-on rebuild mode and need their own influx of talent at nearly every position.
While securing a potential franchise quarterback appears enticing enough, at what cost would it come to the remaining plethora of team needs? Is that an avenue of approach worth the gamble, should Baalke and Co. move up in Round 1?
The simple answer is no. San Francisco isn’t even in a position to move up a spot or two early on. And fans know all too well how Baalke likes to stockpile his picks, with the aforementioned Reid trade an exception.
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And even that was at a time in which the 49ers had relatively few needs — well before the vast departures, which significantly hindered the team in 2015.
Should Goff and Wentz be off the board by the time the Niners’ number is called, so be it. San Francisco should simply take the best player available at that point. And, chances are, that particular prospect will be able to provide an immediate impact to a team in full need of impact players.
Next: 2016 NFL Draft: 49ers Quarterback Big Board
All statistics, records and accolades courtesy of Pro-Football-Reference.com and Sports-Reference.com unless otherwise indicated.