• Max Carlson

49ersHubRoundtable: There's Trouble in Oakland, and John Lynch Should Pounce -- But at What Cost

Image Credit: Scott Young/49ersHub

Recently in the top secret @49ersHub group chat, one of our writers proposed a hypothetical scenario that spurred quite the debate. In no time, passionate takes were coming in hot. We decided to harness the tension caused by the divisive, morale-crushing question, and turn it into a new series called the #49ersHubRoundtable.

Sometimes the #49ersHubRoundtable will be a calm, civilized discussion where we share our picks for player of the game; other times the writers will be defending their stances on a polarizing, hypothetical scenario that could nearly destroy the Hub’s once solid foundation.

So without further ado, the very first topic of discussion brought forth to the sacred table:

We all know about the drama unfolding on the other side of the Bay with the Raiders and their young superstar pass rusher. If you're John Lynch, and you're kicking the tires on the possibility of trading for 27 year old Khalil Mack, do you hang up on Raiders GM Reggie McKenzie if he demands Reuben Foster be a part of any package for Mack?

Travis Hawkins (@TDHawk21)

Reports of the growing discord between the Oakland Raiders and Khalil Mack have sparked a torrent of speculation in the Twitter-verse about the possibility of the Raiders trading the star defensive end, so naturally 49ers fans, fueled by years of making trades in Madden, have put their imaginations into overdrive. On the off chance that Mack is made available, what should John Lynch offer?

The closest comp came in 2013 when the Jets traded Darrelle Revis to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers for a 2014 first round pick and a 2015 fourth round pick. At the time of the trade, Revis was a similar in age to Mack (Revis was 28; Mack is 27) and both players play a premium position, however, Revis was coming off a torn ACL in September of 2012.

If I were John Lynch, I would offer a first and third in 2019 as well as a third in 2020. If Gruden, or whomever is making the decisions in Oakland these days, needs a player to make the deal work I would include Arik Armstead in the deal, but asking for the likes of Buckner or Reuben Foster would be a hard “no” for me (even a one for one swap of Foster for Mack). The idea behind team building is to deal from a position of strength and simply flipping Foster for Mack fills one hole by creating another. Khalil Mack is a free agent after this year and would require a new contract somewhere in the $20 million range and adding him at the expense of a player (Foster) under team control for four more seasons is short-sighted in my opinion.

Max Carlson (@MrFrizzleFry)

It’s no secret that the 49ers are in desperate need of someone who can consistently disrupt the backfield coming off the edge. Acquiring Mack would fill the glaring void that was left when Aldon Smith left the team. If you have that guy, it makes the job of every other position player on the defense so much easier. While Reuben Foster appears to have the tools and football IQ to be an elite linebacker at the pro-level, it is much easier to find a premier linebacker than it is to find a premier edge rusher.

However with that being said, I’m a greedy man and I want a Mack-like presence coming off the edge without sacrificing our promising linebacker (on a rookie deal) who could potentially be the leader of this defense for years to come.

If I were Lynch, I would offer up a future 1st and 2nd round pick, and I’m usually not fond of trading away draft picks -- that’s how good Mack is. But if Reggie was hell-bent on Reuben being in the package, I would have to say no. I want to see what Chris Kiffen, the former FAU Defensive Coordinator and our new Pass Rush Specialist, can do with Solomon Thomas, Cassius Marsh, Jeremiah Attaochu, and Ronald Blair as a rotational pass-rush unit.

If the pass rush is still abysmal, then the team can hope to acquire Mack in free agency (if he doesn’t get the Kirk Cousins franchise tag treatment), or sell the farm to move up into the top five of the 2019 NFL Draft, which is going to be loaded with pass rush talent.

Zach Pratt (@mezachp)

I know that 49er fans love Reuben Foster, marking him as the young savior of our defense. So take his name off of the situation. On one side, Oakland is offering you one of the best two or three pass rushers in the league in the beginning of his physical prime. He has never missed a start in his 4-year career. You will have to pay him, but you also hope to be drafting in the middle-to-end of the first round for the foreseeable future. You'll have to be extremely lucky to get a pass rusher close to his level in that area of the draft, so you are going to have to pay somebody if you want the talent at that position.

On the other side, you have an off-ball linebacker coming off a rookie season that saw him miss 6 full games due to injury, portions of many more, and almost every expert says that this could be an issue in perpetuity due to his play style. He has the talent to be one of the best two or three players at his position, but it's still speculative and dependent on him being able to stay on the field. In addition to all this, this same linebacker has had conduct issues in both of his offseasons to date. He very well could mature, but he needs to prove it. In this scenario, taking the names away, I don't see how you could possibly hang up the phone if you are trading away an oft-injured player at a non-premium position, albeit one with a lot of potential, for a consistently healthy player at the most premium defensive position who has already proven to be one of the best in the league and is just entering his physical prime. To me, it's a no-brainer. I would even add a 3rd round pick to sweeten the deal if I get Khalil Mack. Obviously, I would try to get a package that lets us keep Reuben AND get Mack, but I'm not going to stop talking just because they want a replaceable off-ball linebacker.

Bret Rumbeck (@brumbeck)

Has anyone read the study about giving marshmallows to preschool kids? I may screw this up a bit, but it's something like this: All the kids were offered one marshmallow right now. But, if anyone could wait an hour, a child would be rewarded with two marshmallows. Indeed, when you're 4 years old, an hour can feel like spending eternity on a black hole's event horizon. But, the payoff for patience is two whole marshmallows! As much as I want the San Francisco 49ers to finally return to winning seasons and domination, I have to pause and ask is it worth investing in the moment rather than the future? Khalil Mack would vault this year's 49ers into immediate contention for the playoffs. But there is no proof his addition would mean long-term success for the team. The 49ers cannot succumb to the millennial mentality of immediate gratification. I would discourage general manager John Lynch from giving up a budding superstar and future talent and continue building this season and for seasons to come.

American Poet (@coach_rappcity)

If I’m Lynch and I pick up that call, I deflect the Foster talk and talk up his downside and how Reggie is already dealing with “our” Aldon Smith problem and he doesn’t want to be saddled with both of them. SF is the best place for Foster, BUT, if you’re interested I’ll package Jimmie Ward, Arik Armstead, and a 3rd rounder for Mack, if Mack is willing to agree to a deal. That deal is good for Oakland in that they get a lot of talent in the two players, and a high round draft pick. SF get a top 3 pass rusher and it would only cost them two players who are possibly not in the long term plans and what hopes to be a late third round draft choice. It would move Solomon Thomas to Big End and Mack slides into the LEO position.

Matt Woolsey (@AresgodFF)

You're 49ers general manager John Lynch, training camp started a week ago, things are going great, and then your phone rings: John, this is Reggie McKenzie from Oakland. I like to offer you Khalil Mack, but I want Reuben Foster and your third-round pick next year, what you say? Lynch leans back in his chair and contemplates the deal. Foster is a young very talented player and can be the leader of the defense, plus a third-round pick next season will give us a potential starter. On the other hand, Foster had some injury issues last season and some off the field issues this past spring. Mack on the other hand keeps his nose clean, has never missed a game, and is a genuine game changer. Sorry Reggie, I’m going to keep Foster and my pick. Khalil Mack has chosen to stay home until he receives a new long-term contract, and he deserves a new contract, but to bring him into the fold and work out a new contract would be an unneeded distraction for the 49ers. Plus Foster is well liked in the locker room, players came to his aid during his legal issues this off-season. What would trading him away do to the environment your building in locker room? You've started something with Foster, so you keep Foster.

Matt Barr (@MattBarr_)

Depending on how you look at the 49ers offseason, they did one of two things: failed to address the position or are putting faith in the players on the current roster. However you look at it, Khalil Mack is an elite talent that would be an upgrade for every team. If McKenzie or Gruden or whoever is making the phone calls for the Raiders asks for Foster in a trade, I'm at least hearing them out. Foster could prove to be an incredible LB, however, his off-field troubles and inability to stay healthy on the field make him a tradable piece in exchange for a player of Mack's caliber.


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