49ers Play It Safe And Smart At Deadline
It was a slow trade deadline, as per usual, in the NFL in 2013, much to the surprise of no one. The Patriots and Eagles orchestrated the one deal that was made. Philadelphia admitted mistake in signing Isaac Sopoaga and traded their 6th rounder next season for New England’s 5th rounder. The Eagles probably will end moving up about 10 or 15 picks in next year’s draft to trade away the defensive tackle. The 49ers were in the market for a wide receiver, and with names like Josh Gordon, Kenny Britt, and Hakeem Nicks being thrown around, there were certainly some talented guys out there. Did Trent Baalke make a misstep in not chasing harder after one of these guys?
Well, the short answer is no. The closest the Niners reportedly got to anything was probably with Cleveland's Josh Gordon. He’s the youngest, cheapest, under control the longest, and arguably, most talented of the crop of wide receivers that were on the block. However, because of the 49ers’ 6-2 record, and great likelihood that the Niners will have a pick in the late 20s, Browns’ GM Mike Lombardi was probably asking for a first round pick from his former club. Gordon’s talent is well worth first round value, but his off-the-field issues were way too risky to take the gamble on. Gordon is facing a year-long suspension with his next violation of the substance abuse policy. If they traded a first-rounder to Cleveland, and Gordon got popped with another suspension, the Niners would have the proverbial egg on their face.
Baalke and Harbaugh will be blessed with another draft full of picks. They will own Kansas City’s second rounder, in addition to a bevy of compensation picks they will receive from Dashon Goldson, Isaac Sopoaga, and Ricky Jean-Francois’ free agency. If they identify “their” guy among a pretty decent looking wide receiver class, they can definitely afford to trade up to get him. Gordon very well may be better than any wide receiver the Niners might select, but it just wasn’t worth the gamble for Baalke.
While they would’ve had to give up considerably less for either Hakeem Nicks or Kenny Britt, neither player was worth the Niners’ time. Both players will be free agents following the season, with Nicks looking to command a hefty payday. However, Nicks has clearly lost a step from a few years ago, and he wouldn’t be worth the third-round pick Trent Baalke would have to hand over to the Giants. Kenny Britt, while talented, has had his share of off-field issues and has been a non-factor for a surprisingly competitive Tennessee team. He’s thrown tantrums on the field, he’s been benched, and just seems like a headache. Even if the 49ers had to give up just a sixth rounder for the enigmatic receiver, I’d still pass on him. Britt is just not worth the time and constant headaches.
Finally, the Niners can fall back on the idea that they are picking up two wide receivers that they haven’t had all season. Neither Mario Manningham nor Michael Crabtree will be a huge asset in the regular season. However, they will be making a similar impact as anyone San Francisco would’ve traded for. It may have taken a new wide receiver multiple weeks to get up to speed, and even then, they might not know the offense. Manningham and Crabtree know the offense, and the 49ers don’t have to worry about their off-field issues. Yes, they have a need at receiver, but standing pat at the deadline has to be considered a smart move.