On Friday, April 16, the San Francisco 49ers sent a fifth round draft pick (the 145th overall in the upcoming draft) to the Miami Dolphins for former Ohio State Buckeye stand-out Ted Ginn Jr.
This marked the first major move for the team since the departure of former GM Scott McCloughan and naming of Trent Baalke as de facto GM. But where does this move leave the 49ers as they approach the draft later this week?
Ginn was taken ninth overall by the Miami Dolphins in the 2007 draft after a strong college career with Ohio State. He posted one of the fastest 40 yard dash times in the history of the NFL combine: just 4.28 seconds.
Ginn’s capabilities as an NFL receiver were questioned by many, and in his young career thus far, those concerns have proved to be quite valid. His return capabilities, however, have been more promising.
In three seasons with the Dolphins, Ginn amassed 92 kick returns longer than 20 yards, and seven longer than 40 yards. He averaged 23.0 yards per kick return, 8.7 per punt return and scored three touchdowns overall. In Week Eight against the Jets last season, he became the only player in NFL history to return two kickoffs for touchdowns of 100 yards or longer in the same game.
The 49ers were in need of help in the return game, with Arnaz Battle gone to Pittsburgh and Allen Rossum gone since the signing of Michael Crabtree. Ted Ginn Jr. provides an instant jolt of explosive potential to 49ers return game, with perhaps even a greater upside than Rossum gave the 49ers special teams when he signed from Pittsburgh in 2008.
Ginn’s potential as an offensive weapon is still in question as his professional career at WR has been marked by unimpressive route-running capabilities and critical dropped passes. His physical stature essentially precludes him from being a top-two receiver, but with proper coaching and development, he could still potentially contribute in a spread offense from the slot.
His speed and play-making ability will likely entice the 49ers to at least test the waters of using him in such a role, much as they did with Allen Rossum during his tenure with the team.
It is unclear how this move will truly affect the draft posture of the 49ers, mostly because nobody is really sure what that posture was to begin with.
I personally was never sold on the idea that the 49ers were or should have been strongly targeting C.J. Spiller, but this move would seem to suggest that even if Spiller falls to No. 13 (highly unlikely in my mind), he will no longer be high on the 49ers board.
A fifth round pick seems like quite a bargain for a player with the potential upside (unproven as it may be) of Ginn. Later-round selections (even in a draft with as much depth as this year’s) are always a gamble, and investing a fifth round pick in a player who has at least some proven ability is a good option if it is available.
The Ginn trade certainly will not increase the chances that the 49ers target Jordan Shipley in the draft, but it should not completely rule it out either. Shipley seems to have much higher upside as a pure receiver (still an area of need at the depth level in San Francisco), and imagine the type of fireworks with Shipley and Ginn on the same return team.
This trade may also raise Toby Gerhart on the 49ers draft board, as the argument that a C.J. Spiller or Javid Best could contribute in the return game is no longer as big a factor. Gerhart possesses an incredible blend of speed and power which reminds me of Tom Rathman. With Tom Rathman back on the 49ers coaching staff as RB coach, I would be extremely intrigued to watch Gerhart develop on the 49ers.
Keep the Faith!