With 11 picks in this year’s NFL draft, the San Francisco 49ers are in great position to trade up in the first round. The move makes logical sense. They have plenty of picks, but few holes on their roster—if they were to use all 11 selections, some players simply wouldn’t make the team.
In addition, their two most pressing needs are at cornerback and wide receiver. There are plenty of first-round caliber talents lurking out there in this year’s draft, but many mock drafts have something of a run on those positions happening in the late teens and early twenties. If the 49ers want to get a good player, they’ll likely have to move.
Specifically, the Kansas City Chiefs at #23, the Cincinnati Bengals at #24, the San Diego Chargers at #25 and the Cleveland Browns at #26 could be in the market for cornerbacks or wide receivers. Jumping those four, at least, makes a lot of sense.
However, it’s one thing to say that the team is likely to make a trade, and another to attempt to predict who they will trade with. After all, it takes two teams to consummate a trade, and there a lot of variables to take into account.
With that in mind, I’ve attempted to rank the ten most likely trading partners for the San Francisco 49ers in this year’s NFL Draft. Four factors were considered when making the list:
- Usefulness of the trade to San Francisco. Trading up with Houston at #1 would give the 49ers their choice of anyone in the draft, while only trading up to #28 with Carolina wouldn’t give the team much more of a choice than they had back at #30.
- Expense of the trade. Trading up to #1 would essentially mortgage the future, forcing the team to give up multiple first-round picks and hampering their ability to pick in the future. Conversely, trading with New England at #29 would likely cost the 49ers only a fifth-round selection.
- The other team’s positional needs. The other teams know the 49ers would likely be trading up to grab a cornerback or wide receiver. This is fine to a team like New Orleans, who has no need at those positions. Someone like Kansas City, who will almost assuredly be taking a wide receiver, would be less likely to agree to such a trade.
- The other team’s draft assets. St. Louis is loaded with picks, holding 12 to their name. They don’t really need to trade down to grab more picks. Kansas City, on the other hand, only has six. They might be willing to move back just so they could acquire more players.
Keeping all four factors in mind, here is the list of the 10 most likely trade partners for the 49ers.