Yes, SF 49ers would trade Nick Bosa for Deshaun Watson
By Peter Panacy
Offseason is a great time for speculation and debate, and the idea the SF 49ers would involve Nick Bosa in a trade for Deshaun Watson is right up there.
Log onto Twitter, SF 49ers fans, and do a search for “Nick Bosa,” the star up-and-coming Niners EDGE, and “Deshaun Watson,” the disgruntled-yet-stellar quarterback of the dysfunctional Houston Texans.
What you’ll find is all the speculation and chatter surrounding whether or not San Francisco could entertain a trade between both teams involving these two players.
For a brief backdrop, Watson became exceptionally frustrated with the Texans’ search for a new general manager, who became Nick Caserio, and a new head coach in the wake of Bill O’Brien’s midseason firing. Per reports, Watson wanted to be involved in those conversations and was told by Houston ownership he would be, yet nothing of the sort happened.
And all that has led to an insane amount of trade speculation. Even Hall of Famer Michael Irvin felt San Francisco would be perennial Super Bowl contenders if it somehow managed to trade for Watson this offseason.
That’s where all the Bosa-Watson trade talk started.
Granted, a would-be SF 49ers trade for Watson, who is still just 25 years old, wouldn’t be cheap and would likely involve multiple first-round NFL Draft picks and a slew of other selections to even get the negotiations started. And it doesn’t seem likely the Texans would be that silly to move one of the league’s best young quarterbacks, a centerpiece around which Houston can build a new playoff-contending roster.
But what if the Niners included Bosa, one of the league’s best up-and-coming pass-rushers, into the mix?
Maybe that would entice Houston enough, particularly if that’s part of the trade package. Now the only question would be whether or not San Francisco would do it.
SF 49ers would entertain a Nick Bosa trade for Deshaun Watson
Full disclaimer: The SF 49ers shouldn’t start any trade discussions for Watson with Bosa as a bargaining token if they were to happen. But they don’t have to rule out Bosa as untouchable. Same goes with quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo, but that’s a discussion for another time.
Bosa is a fantastic piece, one of the Niners’ top players and a future candidate for the NFL’s Defensive Player of the Year award. But Watson, who led the entire NFL with 4,823 passing yards last season with an abysmal offense, poor head coach and shoddy offensive line, is an MVP-caliber candidate.
And MVP-caliber quarterbacks are infinitely more important to a team’s success than elite pass-rushers.
2020 provides excellent case studies in this. For starters, Bosa appeared in just 1.5 games last season before suffering his season-ending ACL tear. Despite the lack of an efficient four-man pass rush, San Francisco still allowed the fifth-fewest yards during the regular season (5,030) and had the sixth-best defensive DVOA (defensive value over average), per Football Outsiders.
Having Bosa for all of last season would have helped, but this unit got by OK without him.
2020 also saw how a team like the Seattle Seahawks, boasting one of the league’s worst defensive lines for much of last season, managed a 12-4 record with quarterback Russell Wilson essentially “putting the team on his shoulders.”
That’s the kind of quarterback play a three-time Pro Bowler like Watson offers.
OK, so why did the Texans finish 4-12? Why didn’t Watson elevate his team into the playoffs?
Well, for starters, coaching matters. Seattle has a good head coach, Pete Carroll (it’s true, Niners fans). So does San Francisco in Kyle Shanahan. And both of those squads have better offensive weapons at their disposal than Houston. Is it that hard to imagine what Watson could do behind a moderately decent O-line and with receiving targets like George Kittle, Deebo Samuel and Brandon Aiyuk?
That’s where the word “electrifying” comes into play.
This is the context where moving a player as good as Bosa makes a lot of sense if Watson was the reward. Again, this isn’t to say the SF 49ers should wave Bosa as the prime trade piece to make it happen.
But if Houston said Bosa needed to be part of the deal and wasn’t asking too much in terms of other draft picks, the Niners would be more than willing.
It probably won’t happen. Yet for the crowd that thinks Bosa is untouchable, he isn’t.
Especially if a player like Watson would be waiting on the other end.