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The 49ers could find themselves being surprise buyers at the October 30, 2018 NFL Trade Deadline. Season-ending knee injuries to quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo and running back Jerick McKinnon derailed a team with lofty expectations. John Lynch and Co. could look to reload a roster before the offseason and give some outside hires a chance to learn the system. Here is a list of players that the 49ers could target.
Amari Cooper, WR, Oakland Raiders
Raiders’ new head coach Jon Gruden made the biggest head-scratcher trade in decades when he shipped linebacker Khalil Mack to Chicago for far less than a king’s ransom. Now there are reports that they are shopping wide receiver Amari Cooper in what appears to be Gruden attempting to move on from General Manager Reggie McKenzie’s former first round picks. The 49ers should absolutely explore the idea of adding Cooper to a receiving corps that has underperformed so far this year. WR Marquise Goodwin has been in-and-out of the lineup with injuries and the offense seems to grind a screeching halt when he is sidelined. Pierre Garcon has begun to show his age, Trent Taylor has not progressed as hoped and Dante Pettis has battled injuries of his own. Cooper would add a true number one talent to a Shanahan offense that badly needs one. Whether or not the Raiders would be willing trade partners with the 49ers is a whole different issue.
Le’Veon Bell, RB, Pittsburgh Steelers
No storyline has been covered as much this season as Le’Veon Bell’s hold out from the Steelers. Running back James Conner has stepped into Bell’s old role and performed incredibly. The Steelers offense has seemed to not miss a beat with Bell absent. It is very clear that he will test free agency in the offseason and with every passing week, Pittsburgh loses leverage. McKinnon was brought in this past offseason because of his apparent fit with Shanahan’s system but rarely do running backs return 100% to form after major knee injuries. Bell’s ability as a dual threat tailback and willingness to show the league he still has the chops to be one of the best in the game would provide a major boost to an already productive backfield. Running back Matt Breida has shined in his time as the number-one back but is not known for his prowess as a receiving back. The 49ers also have the cap space to lock Bell into a long-term deal once the season is concluded.
Patrick Peterson, CB, Arizona Cardinals
Patrick Peterson has made seven consecutive Pro Bowls for the Cardinals and has already proven to be a thorn in the 49ers’ side with his fumble recovery in their Week 5 game. The 49ers secondary, outside of cornerback Richard Sherman, is very much in flux. CB Ahkello Witherspoon was supposed to take the next step after a promising rookie season; however, he did not play a single snap against the Green Bay Packers this past Monday night. Peterson is a big, physical cornerback with a knack for causing turnovers and wreaking havoc for opposing quarterbacks. The Cardinals are in a complete rebuild and leftovers from the previous regime do not fit into their plans. Linebackers Deone Bucannon and Haason Reddick both find themselves on the block, as well. Arizona is unlikely to move any of those three players within the NFC West but stranger things have happened.
Dante Fowler, DE, Jacksonville Jaguars
The dthird overall pick in the 2015 draft, Dante Fowler is set to be a free agent following this season. Chances are the Jaguars will not be re-signing him as they have one of the deepest defensive lines in football. It is no secret that the 49ers’ lack of a pass rush is their biggest weakness and Fowler would provide an immediate upgrade to the much-maligned group. Fowler has underperformed for his draft position but did manage 8.0 sacks last season. That number would have led the 49ers every season since 2013 when Ahmad Brooks posted 8.5. Since it is very likely he will be available in February, the 49ers would have to acquire him for a very low price.
Shane Ray, OLB, Denver Broncos
Shane Ray is another pass rusher that came with lots of hype but has disappointed in his stint with the team that drafted him. Ray has suffered a series of wrist injuries that have kept him from performing at the highest level but the talent as a pure pass rusher is there. When he played his last full season in 2016, he logged 8.0 sacks, recovered a pair of fumbles and forced a fumble of his own. Ray, however, is also set to be a free agent and has battled more injuries this season. He would be another player that the 49ers would have to get for next to nothing.
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