The 49ers could use reinforcements at wide receiver ahead of the NFL trade deadline, but a floating rumor about adding Odell Beckham doesn’t make sense.
Maybe as recent as the 2019 season, the last time Beckham and the Browns faced off against the Niners in what turned into a lopsided San Francisco victory en route to the Super Bowl that season.
But that was two years ago. Not now.
The Browns, 3-3 and boasting the NFL’s ninth-ranked scoring offense, potentially are interested in moving Beckham by the NFL trade deadline in November. At least according to a report from The Athletic’s Jeff Howe (h/t Bleacher Report), which stated:
"Sources familiar with the Cleveland Browns’ thinking suggested this could be the wide receiver’s final season with the team. Beckham is under contract through 2023."
The 49ers do have wide receiver depth needs, yes. And there’s even one suggestion the Niners would do a straight-up trade with the Browns involving Beckham and quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo. Cleveland quarterback Baker Mayfield is playing with an injured shoulder amid a serious playoff push, but that’s an obstacle right there nonetheless.
Even if San Francisco can get out from under Jimmy G and pave the way for rookie quarterback Trey Lance to start, there are other reasons why trading for Beckham makes no sense.
49ers can scantly afford Odell Beckham’s salary cap hit
Yes, moving on from Garoppolo would free up a sizable chunk of the $26 million he’s due in 2021. But according to Over the Cap, Beckham has a cap hit this year of $15.75 million, the bulk of which the 49ers would have to take on via the trade. If Garoppolo wasn’t included on the deal, the Niners would have only $4.95 million available to spend on Beckham.
Needless to say, that would take some serious roster/contract jockeying to absorb Beckham’s contract, so moving Garoppolo would be the only way that could potentially happen.
And while San Francisco could part ways with Beckham in 2022 with zero dead money, the financial limitations right now suggest this move wouldn’t be possible.
49ers must focus on developing Brandon Aiyuk, not shifting to Odell Beckham
A parallel storyline worth watching here is the 49ers’ handling of second-year wide receiver Brandon Aiyuk, who after impressing so much his rookie year after being selected 25th overall in the 2020 NFL Draft, has fallen on hard times his sophomore season.
All to the tune of eight receptions for 90 yards over five games played.
Whether or not Aiyuk is in head coach Kyle Shanahan’s doghouse is another topic altogether, but it still behooves the Niners to maximize their development requirements for a player upon whom they pinned so much offensive hope just over a year ago.
Related Story: Brandon Aiyuk must see more touches after 49ers bye week
Adding the soon-to-be 29-year-old Beckham, who is currently dealing with injuries of his own, hasn’t developed the chemistry with Mayfield and is coming off a 2020 campaign that limited the veteran receiver to just seven games played, would cut into the already limited number of targets Aiyuk is getting right now.
In that sense, Beckham is more of a “what was” player, whereas Aiyuk is still a “what could be” player San Francisco still has to develop.
On a cheaper rookie contract, too.
While a would-be Beckham-to-49ers deal could have been enticing a few years ago, at the current moment, all the elements of it simply don’t make sense.