There have been some blockbuster moves around the league, but don’t expect the San Francisco 49ers to be heavy on the trade wire leading up to the late-October deadline.
Ramsey was moved from Jacksonville to the team the Niners just beat in Week 6, the Los Angeles Rams, for quite a lofty package in return. News of Tuesday’s deal was first reported by ESPN’s Adam Schefter:
Ramsey was only part of the moves Los Angeles made, which included sending off cornerback Marcus Peters to Baltimore Ravens.
There will undoubtedly be more moves between now and the Oct. 29 NFL trade deadline. But the Rams’ moves prompt a question: Will the 49ers be heavily active on the trade market?
The short answer? No.
Sure, a player like Ramsey would have provided an upgrade at the position, either over third-year pro Ahkello Witherspoon or a long-term solution for the veteran, Richard Sherman. But the Niners haven’t panicked with Witherspoon’s foot injury, and they’re still averaging a league-best 150.2 pass yards per game with their current group, including reserve options.
San Francisco hasn’t panicked with injuries to its two starting tackles, Joe Staley and Mike McGlinchey, either. Football Outsiders still ranks this unit second overall in run blocking and No. 3 overall in pass protection.
Sure, one could argue the 49ers could make upgrades at wide receiver, as the pass offense ranks 21st in the league. But bringing aboard a big name, such as the Denver Broncos’ Emmanuel Sanders, would stunt the growth of wideouts Dante Pettis and Deebo Samuel.
The Niners invested two Round 2 NFL Draft picks on those names, and not letting them develop isn’t exactly a smart move.
Speaking of the draft, San Francisco is without its own second-round pick in 2020 (used in the trade for EDGE Dee Ford) but has an extra seventh rounder. So, unless the Niners want to start diving into their crop of 2021 or 2022 draft picks, there’s only one feasible pick to use on a high-profile player.
Unless general manager John Lynch negotiates a steal, of course.
There are other issues getting in the way, too. Currently, Lynch has $25,778,376 in cap space for 2020, according to Over the Cap, which doesn’t include 2019 carryover. Roughly $10 million of that will be needed to sign the 2020 rookie class, but the bigger deal is some pending contract extensions and re-signings.
Defensive tackle DeForest Buckner is currently eligible for an extension, and he could command a deal in the range of $17 million per year. Tight end George Kittle will be eligible for an extension next year, too. And the 49ers may want to consider re-signing fellow defensive tackle Arik Armstead, who is a free agent in 2020.
Few teams are as competent negotiating the salary cap as San Francisco. But the one major side effect of being good is players become more expensive.
Taking on a big name, especially one nearing the point of an extension, would endanger the 49ers’ chances of re-signing players they already have, and Lynch already has a preference to reward players on the roster already. There have been exceptions, yes. But the trend would suggest no big move is made.
Sure, the 49ers may make some small moves here and there, mostly to bolster depth and maybe clear some excess elsewhere. But one shouldn’t expect anything big, especially considering they’re winning with the roster they already have.
The 2019 NFL trade deadline is 4 p.m. ET on Oct. 29.