The 49ers went all-in this season when they traded four future draft picks to acquire running back Christian McCaffrey last week. However, there are still five days left until the trade deadline. Could another move be on the horizon? While the Niners currently only have five picks in the upcoming draft, they are expected to get a trio of Day 3 compensatory picks this offseason. Furthermore, they could get another compensatory third-rounder if defensive coordinator DeMeco Ryans is hired by another team as a head coach. While those picks cannot be traded yet, it makes it easier for the 49ers to part with one of their current picks.
Here are five potential targets in a minor trade:
Albert Okwuegbunam, TE (Broncos)
If the 49ers do another trade, the defense is a more obvious place to target. However, if a good player becomes available on the other side of the ball, the front office should not be afraid to strike. Albert Okwuegbunam was expected to emerge as the Broncos starting tight end this season after they traded George Fant. Instead, he was a healthy scratch last week.
Well, Albert O is a terrible blocker. Given how much Kyle Shanahan despises skill players who are liabilities as blockers, it probably means the Niners want nothing to do with Okwuegbunam. With that said, the 49ers have been searching for a second pass-catching tight end behind George Kittle for years. It seems like an
Okwuegbunam is making a minimum salary this year and next, which would give the Niners staff an opportunity to focus with Okwuegbunam on improving his blocking this season before taking on a larger role next season.
Estimated trade return: SWAP 2023 SF COMP 3rd-round pick with DEN 2023 4th-round pick
Michael Brockers, DL (Lions)
Michael Brockers was a consistent and versatile contributor on the Rams’ defensive line for 11 seasons before signing a three-year deal with the Lions before last season. Since arriving in Detroit, though, Brockers’ production has plummeted. At 31, Brockers may no longer be a viable contributor, but it’s easy to envision a renaissance playing alongside Nick Bosa.
Barring an excellent second half of the season, Brocker is going to be released by the Lions this off-season. With that in mind, it’s hard to envision Detroit passing on an opportunity to recoup any draft capital for Brockers at the deadline.
The Niners would be on the hook for roughly half of Brockers’ $3 million base salary this season (although Detroit could pick up some of it). Still, his $10 million base salary in 2023 is entirely non-guaranteed, meaning the 49ers can release him after this season without incurring any dead money.
While not quite on Arik Armstead’s level, Brockers has a similar versatility, splitting his time between the edge and interior defensive line over the past several seasons. Brockers would be an excellent candidate to help fill Armstead’s shoes while he is out with plantar fasciitis, but could also play a role if Armstead returns.
Estimated trade return: 2023 SF 7th-round pick
Payton Turner, DL (Saints)
With Marcus Davenport on the verge of free agency, it seems hard to envision the Saints trading Payton Turner, their first-round selection in the 2021 draft. However, injuries and poor play have limited him to just 15 tackles and one sack in eight career NFL games.
At 6’6”-270 lbs. Turner is an impressive athlete at his size on the defensive line. The Niners have an excellent track record of helping defensive linemen get the most out of their potential. Moreover, defensive linemen Samson Ebukam, Charles Omenihu, Kerry Hyder, Maurice Hurst, Akeem Spence, Jordan Willis, Hassan Ridgeway, Kemoko Turay, and Kevin Givens are all slated to be free agents following this season. Even if Turner is not an immediate contributor with the Niners, acquiring him now could give the staff the time to prepare him for a larger role next season.
Estimated trade return: SWAP 2023 SF Comp 3rd with 2024 NO 5th
Caleb Farley, CB (Titans)
Another former first-round pick, Caleb Farley, has struggled to find his footing in the NFL. Farley appeared in just three games as a rookie before tearing his ACL. This season, Farley has been mostly healthy but has been relegated on Tennessee’s depth chart. In fact, Farley has already voiced his frustration with his lack of playing time this season.
Farley was considered a low-floor, high-ceiling prospect in the 2021 NFL Draft, but if the Niners scouting staff believed in his potential at that point in time, it could be the perfect opportunity to buy low. With two years left on Farley’s rookie contract, the Niners would be looking to solidify their depth this season before potentially playing an expanded role next year. With Emmanuel Moseley set to be a free agent, Farley could be a potential low-cost replacement.
Granted, Farley’s limited playing time has been ugly. The Niners coaching staff would need to help him take some big steps forward to be a competent option. Still, the upside is there to justify a trade.
It seems hard to believe the Titans would trade a first-round pick less than two years into his career, but unlike New Orleans with Turner, Tennessee has quality players ahead of Farley under contract beyond this season. That should make it easier to stomach trading him for minimal value. A 5th-round pick and an underperforming former third-round corner pick like Ambry Thomas should be a sufficient return if Tennessee has indeed given up on Farley.
Estimated trade return: Ambry Thomas, 2023 SF 5th-round pick
William Jackson III, CB (Commanders)
Farley would be an exciting acquisition for this season and beyond. With that said, William Jackson III is a way more pragmatic potential acquisition. A seven-year NFL veteran, Jackson has started 64 career games and signed a three-year, $40.5 million contract with the Commanders before last season. Since inking his deal in Cin
The 49ers would be on the hook for a pro-rated portion of $5.75 million unless they could get the Commanders to cover a portion of the money. That should be a manageable ask, though, since he is expected to be released this offseason.
The Niners would have control of Jackson through next season, but with no guaranteed money and a $10.25 million cap hit, he would almost certainly have to agree to restructure his contract or be released given San Francisco’s cap situation. Given the injuries to the 49ers secondary though, Jackson’s experience should still have value as a rental.
Estimated trade return: SWAP 2023 SF 5th-round pick with 2024 WSH 7th-round pick