5 Creative Moves the San Francisco 49ers Can Pull on Draft Day
Innovative methods via the transaction wire are something the San Francisco 49ers have become known for under the new regime of coach Jim Harbaugh and general manager Trent Baalke. This is also an aggressive approach that has translated to the NFL draft, as their capital and lack of roster space has led to a lot of wheeling and dealing.
The 49ers are not afraid to make moves for the betterment of the club.
And with a league-high 11 draft picks, it is realistic to expect some serious movement this year. It makes San Francisco a very exciting team during the forthcoming three-day draft period. In the following slides, we will present five creative options the 49ers may pursue—ones that will position the team to make the best possible selections and enhance the roster.
Trade LaMichael James and a Fourth-Round Pick to the Philadelphia Eagles
The proposal? Nos. 30 and 129 overall, plus running back LaMichael James, to the Philadelphia Eagles at No. 22 in the first round.
The 49ers—who have been looking to make this trade—are able to unload James, put him in a place where they can succeed, while positioning themselves in the low 20s.
That way they can snatch up LSU’s Odell Beckham Jr. or Oregon State’s Brandin Cooks, both of whom are capable of becoming the receiver they need, in that they’re explosive and can also satisfy the punt- and kick-return duties James fulfilled. This is a deal that would make a ton of sense.
Trade Up from Rounds 2-3, Set Selves Up with Two First-Round Picks
The 49ers have 11 picks in this draft, including six in the top 100. That being the case, they can move up in the first round without including their 30th overall pick in the trade.
The benefit to this is that San Francisco would have two first-round picks and therefore be able to settle two top needs with blue-chip players. They’d be able to take a wide receiver like Odell Beckham Jr. and a cornerback like Kyle Fuller, for instance, which would be a heck of a tandem to emerge with from Day 1.
Or they can take a pair of corners, since they need multiple top-tier prospects there anyway.
Grabbing Jason Verrett and Kyle Fuller or Bradley Roby and Kyle Fuller would be a heck of a move to upgrade the secondary. The 49ers would not have to sweat the cornerback position for the rest of the draft, which is good, since it’s easily their top need in 2014.
Having two first-rounders would be a great impact play by general manager Trent Baalke.
Trade Up into the Top 15
This is entirely possible—it just seems unlikely because the 49ers don’t operate with the mentality that they’re "one player away." This is also a very deep draft class as well, one where they wouldn’t have to do that.
But, then again, the 49ers have all the picks in the world and not that much space on the roster. If they’re truly in love with a certain prospect this year—one that can really help this team, particularly versus their division rivals and reigning Super Bowl champions Seattle Seahawks—they might pull the trigger.
Wide receiver Mike Evans, wideout Odell Beckham Jr. and cornerback Justin Gilbert are a few players the 49ers might have high on their board.
They can play to rebuilding teams like the Detroit Lions, Tennessee Titans, St. Louis Rams, Chicago Bears and Pittsburgh Steelers, who each have holes in multiple spots and could stand to add more picks.
The 49ers could possibly wrangle up a deal with one of them, offering them extra picks in the early rounds.
Trade Ray McDonald and a Fourth-Round Pick to the Houston Texans
Reports suggest that the Houston Texans are working tirelessly to trade out of the No. 1 spot, which means they’re probably looking to take a quarterback somewhere in the first-round—without over-drafting one—instead of taking South Carolina sensation Jadeveon Clowney.
If they don’t take Clowney, they can still land a solid starting 3-4 end and also net a pick this year for their rebuilding franchise. That’s a heck of a scenario for Houston. All the team would have to do is give up is their pick at the top of the second round.
The deal would be to trade starting defensive end Ray McDonald and the No. 129 overall pick to the Texans.
The 49ers have this flexibility with Tank Carradine waiting in the wings, and the fact that they’ve played entire games without McDonald without missing a beat. Coach Jim Tomsula and this defensive scheme provides the team with the sort of leeway to take a chance like this.
They can net a high pick, plan to start Carradine, and bring in another developmental defensive lineman like Ra’Shede Hageman, Will Sutton or DaQuan Jones in an early-to-mid round as a backup. Ultimately, the 49ers would enhance the defensive end position, making it more dynamic, while freeing up cap space.
Trade out of the First Round
This is the least likely scenario, but if the 49ers have a unique opportunity to stockpile picks in the second round and perhaps pick up a first-round selection next year, it’s something that they should consider. They should consider it because, as NFL Network analyst Mike Mayock said, this is the deepest class in 10 years.
The 49ers are already on the fringe with the 30th overall pick. If they part with their Day 1 selection, it would probably allow them to get good value back and it wouldn’t make all that much of a difference, given the team already has a fully-loaded roster.