SF 49ers: NFL Draft options after potential Deshaun Watson trade

Houston Texans quarterback Deshaun Watson (4) Mandatory Credit: Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports
Houston Texans quarterback Deshaun Watson (4) Mandatory Credit: Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports /
1 of 6
Deshaun Watson, Houston Texans, SF 49ers
Houston Texans quarterback Deshaun Watson (4) Mandatory Credit: Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports /

Niner Noise looks at how the SF4 9ers can trade for Deshaun Watson and still address NFL Draft needs in 2021.

The SF 49ers‘ brain trust of general manager John Lynch and head coach Kyle Shanahan have said all the right things when it comes to quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo‘s future in San Francisco. They both have stated Garoppolo is their quarterback heading into next season.

However, when it comes to the opportunity for a franchise to acquire a generational talent like Houston Texans quarterback Deshaun Watson, those plans change, plain and simple.

There are critics of the idea of offering multiple first- and second-round NFL Draft picks for Watson, but there are never guarantees when it comes to drafting players, regardless of where they are selected.

Sure, the Niners have had recent success with their first-round picks with EDGE Nick Bosa, wide receiver Brandon Aiyuk, and a solid defensive tackle, Javon Kinlaw. But they have also done well in the middle rounds (i.e. tight end George Kittle, linebacker Fred Warner, linebacker Dre Greenlaw) as well as with undrafted free agents like wide receiver Kendrick Bourne, cornerback Emmanuel Moseley, tight end Ross Dwelley, and running back JaMycal Hasty.

San Francisco will have at least nine draft picks in the upcoming 2021 NFL Draft, including compensatory selections at the end of the third and fourth rounds. That provides the front office with some additional draft capital in the event they give some of their higher picks up to acquire Watson.

For example, the SF 49ers could offer Houston their 2021 first- and second-round picks this season, a first-rounder next year, a second-round pick in 2023, and Garoppolo. The first-round pick next season would presumably be in the latter part of the round, assuming a healthy Niners team with Watson at the helm makes the playoffs.

While it seems like a steep price to pay, Watson would immediately become the team’s best quarterback since Hall of Famer Steve Young donned the scarlet and gold. Players of his skill level seldom become available while still in the early prime years of their career. And it would not preclude the team from still utilizing their other draft picks to fill holes in the roster and surround Watson with enough talent to bring home the franchise’s sixth Lombardi Trophy.

The Niners will also have more cash available to sign some free agents because Watson’s 2021 cap hit will be just $15.4 million as opposed to Garoppolo’s $26.6 million.

With that said, let’s take a look at how the team can fill out the roster with the available draft picks the Niners will have in April.