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Why the San Francisco 49ers Didn't Need to Make Moves at the Trade Deadline

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Why the San Francisco 49ers Didn't Need to Make Moves at the Trade Deadline
Browns wide receiver Josh Gordon was one of the 49ers' targets before the trade deadline.

The 2013 NFL trading deadline has passed and the San Francisco 49ers stood idle as the hours and minutes counted down.

Why didn't San Francisco make any trades?

The short answer—they did not have to.

As we all know, the NFL trading deadline is nothing like those of Major League Baseball, the National Basketball Association or the National Hockey League.  Relatively few trades ever take place at the deadline. 

2013 was no exception, with only one trade taking place between the Philadelphia Eagles and New England Patriots.

Heading towards the deadline, there was speculation that San Francisco might be active.  The 49ers had some overstock considering the fact a number of injured players are scheduled to return within the coming weeks.

There were also plenty of stories surrounding the possibility of San Francisco adding another wide receiver, perhaps the Cleveland Browns' Josh Gordon.

Would the team turn some of the excess into potential draft picks or even adding a receiver?

As it turned out, nothing of the sort happened. Let us take a look at why.

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Anthony Dixon was one 49er placed on the trading block.

Running back Anthony Dixon was one 49er who was placed by the team on the trading block, according to Ian Rapoport of the NFL Network.  Dixon is in the final year of his four-year contract and is a cheap commodity—$660,150 against the cap.

Moving Dixon would give him a chance to have a bigger role on another team while freeing up roster spots for the 49ers.

In return, San Francisco would probably not get anything more than a seventh-round pick for his services.  But the 49ers were probably more interested in creating roster space than anything else.

In all likelihood, San Francisco did not find any suitors that were interested in executing this trade.  They would not have been asking much, but the fact that the trade did not happen speaks some volume.

Dixon discusses his various roles with the 49ers.

Instead, the 49ers will be able to keep him on the roster.  Dixon does provide good short-yardage potential as well as solid blocking.  He has filled in well on special teams too, so keeping Dixon may not have been a bad idea after all.

Wide receiver Jon Baldwin has had a minimal role with the 49ers.

Then there was the possibility of moving players like wide receiver Jon Baldwin or cornerback Nnamdi Asomugha.

By moving Baldwin, San Francisco would finally close the door on their 2011 first-round pick, A.J. Jenkins who was sent to the Kansas City Chiefs in exchange for Baldwin's services.

Up to this point, Baldwin has done little to suggest the change of scenery would do some good.  Like Jenkins, it is going to be difficult for him to shake the "bust" moniker.

The 49ers are counting on two valuable receivers entering the mix over the next few weeks.  Mario Manningham is expected to return shortly, and Michael Crabtree could be back by the end of November.

Baldwin, who is a member of the less-than-stellar cast of 49er receivers that back up No. 1 wideout Anquan Boldin, has become expendable to a certain extent.

Like they did with Dixon, San Francisco apparently tried to move Baldwin, but it is unlikely they found any teams willing to take the trade bait.

While Dixon has some value, Baldwin has yet to show that he can play a substantial role at the NFL level.  That drops his trade value considerably.  Would any team want to take a shot on that? 

Probably not.

According to @ArrowheadAddict, the 49ers would not have received anything substantial for him in return—unless alcoholic beverages are considered a worthy trade commodity.

Cornerback Nnamdi Asomugha has played in only three games in 2013.

The same could be said for San Francisco's offseason acquisition Asomugha.

Asomugha was signed in the offseason to a one-year, $1.775 million contract with zero guaranteed money.  It was hoped that Asomugha could resurrect his career in the press-based defensive scheme employed by the 49ers.

Up to this point—thanks in large measure to the stellar play of fellow corner Tramaine Brock—Asomugha has been a relative nonfactor.  Asomugha has played in only three games this season and is apparently destined for the 49ers' scrap heap.

/Getty Images
A crowded secondary could force Asomugha out of San Francisco.

The speculation that San Francisco was trying to move him gives us indication that they no longer need his services.  The fact that nobody was interested in taking on such an easy contract also indicates that the 49ers could not find any landing spots.

Both Asomugha and Baldwin still have a chance—albeit very little—of remaining with the team. 

Baldwin will compete with receivers Kyle Williams, Marlon Moore and Quinton Patton (pending his return) for the No. 4 receiver slot once Crabtree and Manningham both resume playing.  Given his relative inactivity and the fact he has been shopped, Baldwin's future with the team looks very tenuous.

Asomugha's situation is similar.  The pending 49er debut of Eric Wright pushes Asomugha further down on the depth chart.  It may be enough to push Asomugha off the roster completely.

The most interesting trade scenario San Francisco was rumored to have taken part in was acquiring Josh Gordon.  The 49ers needed receiving help.  Gordon could provide it.

According to a report from ESPN's Adam Schefter, the Browns were entertaining offers from at least three other teams for Gordon.

Yet none of these offers were good enough to entice Cleveland to trade away the wide receiver, per Mary Kay Cabot of Cleveland.com.

Gordon would have been a nice upgrade, but the cost was likely too high.

As far as the 49ers were concerned, this is probably a case in which the asking price was higher than what San Francisco was willing to pay.  One has to keep in mind that the team is getting receiving reinforcements soon and that the 49ers have gotten off to a 6-2 start with only one bona fide receiver thus far.

While Gordon is an easy upgrade over Manningham, what is his value as a No. 2 or a No. 3 receiver opposite Boldin and Crabtree? Given the 49ers unwillingness to bite, we have to conclude that trade cost was too high.

This argument is bolstered by the fact that other teams that were also searching for wideout help—such as the Ravens, Colts, Patriots and Lions (per Jason La Canfora of CBS Sports)—could not strike a deal either.

Further staining the possibility of a trade is the fact that Gordon is one incident away from violating the NFL's substance-abuse policy which would result in a year-long suspension. 

What are your thoughts about the 49ers lack of activity at the deadline?

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For San Francisco, the trade deadline quietly passed with no trade transactions taking place.  Their roster will unquestionably change over the next few weeks, but trades will not factor into such changes.

Perhaps the 49ers are better off by not executing any deals.  Dixon's value may still be felt and losing Baldwin and Asomugha to roster cuts might not have significant implications.  While adding Gordon might have been nice, the long-term cost was likely too high.

In this case, inaction was the best course the team could have taken.

 

All statistics, records and accolades courtesy of Pro-Football-Reference.com unless otherwise indicated.  Contractual information provided by Spotrac.com.

 

Peter Panacy is a featured columnist for Bleacher Report, covering the San Francisco 49ers.  Follow him @PeterMcShots on Twitter.

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