Image Credit: Andrew Giesemann
The lead up to the 2018 NFL trade deadline had both fans and experts expecting the 49ers to make some moves. Wide receiver Pierre Garcon and defensive back Jimmie Ward were among the players mentioned to potentially be wearing a different uniform by the deadline. What started out as a slow day around the league turned into a flurry of moves with less than two hours left. WRs Demaryius Thomas and Golden Tate were shipped off to the Houston Texans and Philadelphia Eagles respectively. However, the biggest splash was the Los Angeles Rams trading for Jacksonville Jaguars’ defensive end Dante Fowler. While the rich got richer, the 49ers did their due diligence.
John Lynch and Co. came into the trading season with only five draft picks this year. The fifth-round pick was dealt in a trade last year with Detroit for guard Laken Tomlinson and the seventh-round selection was sent to Cleveland for tackle Shon Coleman. Did the lack of ammunition lead to the front office believing that they needed to hoard their picks to fill the multitude of holes on the roster through the draft? Lynch and Kyle Shanahan have proven that they will make a splash to get a player they believe in. Last year at the deadline, they stole quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo from the New England Patriots for a second-round pick. It is possible that the 49ers set a price for each player, called up other teams and gave their best offer. It is also possible that they didn’t believe any players on the block were a good fit for the locker room.
In what was probably the biggest surprise, the 49ers did not trade a single player away. Garcon and Ward were both the subject of questions following the loss to the Arizona Cardinals this past Sunday. Kyle Shanahan himself said that they had been in contact with other teams about Garcon, and Ward was extremely frank about the uncertainty of his future while talking with reporters in the locker room Monday. Both players are playing on expensive deals and contenders that are looking for depth are generally pushed up against the cap without the wiggle room for pricey veterans. Defensive lineman Arik Armstead was also the subject of trade rumors. His recent play, a sack in each of the last two games, was thought to drive his value up and make him highly sought after. However, when all the dust settled at 4:00pm EST, the 49ers roster was completely intact.
Where does this leave the rebuild? Simply put, in the exact same position it was before. If the season ended today, the 49ers would be selecting first overall and it is difficult to see them dropping out of the top five when the season concludes. By sticking to their guns, Shanahan needs to focus the rest of the playing time to developing young talent. Veterans like nose tackle Earl Mitchell and Garcon need to take a back seat. If a player does not have a spot in the future, they should not be stealing snaps from players the coaches need to evaluate. Shanahan finds himself in a similar situation to last season. The difference being, Jimmy Garoppolo is not walking through that door this year.
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