10 trade targets the 49ers should consider before the deadline

Oct 25, 2023, 11:00 AM | Updated: 12:57 pm

Brock Purdy #13 of the San Francisco 49ers looks on during the first quarter against the Minnesota ...

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The San Francisco 49ers are in a predicament less than a week out from the trade deadline.

A squad already equipped with the most talent in the league, has struggled to find its form in the last two weeks. After dismantling the Dallas Cowboys in Week 5, Weeks 6 & 7 exposed the 49ers’ lapses in the biggest ways, dropping both games on the road.

Now 5-2, the 49ers enter a must-win Week 8 clash with the Cincinnati Bengals before the bye week. Regardless of the game, one or two more pieces added by general manager John Lynch could be the difference, both in the short and long-term future of the Red & Gold.

So here are a few targets that are both realistic and unrealistic as the trade market heats up for San Francisco.

Realistic Targets:

CB Kenny Moore II – Indianapolis Colts

The No.1 slot cornerback the last few years, Moore is at it again in 2023.

While his Pro Football Focus grade isn’t as high as years’ past (68.8), the veteran still leads the league in tackles (36) for his position. Able to play both inside and outside, he would be a perfect fit for Steve Wilks’ defensive scheme, giving immediate challenge to CBs Charvarius Ward and Deommodore Lenoir.

Still only 28, Moore is in the final year of a four-year extension with the Colts. And while the team could still try and compete in the AFC South, it would be behoove them to pick up some extra draft compensation for a player about to hit the market.

Third and fifth-round picks should suffice to get the deal done.

CB Jaylon Johnson – Chicago Bears

Quietly becoming one of the best CBs in football, the Bears’ Jaylon Johnson would be a big get for the 49ers.

But it’ll come at a price.

Johnson, 24, has an 85.8 PFF score this season, one of the highest-rated corners in football. His 12 receptions allowed is the second-lowest total in the NFL. And thanks to his lesser status on the Bears, he’d probably cost less than other star cornerbacks would.

But it’s still a high price of at least a Day 2 pick and additional compensation. Maybe the 49ers would have to send a young player as well to make it work.

And then there’s giving the player a new deal, which the 49ers probably can’t afford in the long run.

It’s a risky play, but one that is doable for a win-now team.

RT Chris Hubbard – Carolina Panthers

The 49ers offensive line has struggled at times this season, especially on the right side.

Second-year guard Spencer Burford has been up and down, and so has first-year starting tackle Colton McKivitz. Maybe it’s time to add another big man to the rotation.

The Panthers’ Chris Hubbard would be a cheap option.

Hubbard, 32, had been great this season (72.7 PFF grade). Meanwhile, Carolina has not (0-6) to start the year.

If one plus one equals two, then Hubbard should be available for any contending team.

Getting the veteran for late-draft compensation could be the move for the 49ers.

G Ezra Cleveland – Minnesota Vikings

Another offensive lineman that could be on the block, Minnesota’s Ezra Cleveland.

The 25-year-old has been rock solid this season (73.8 PFF score), only allowing one sack in 2023. He has also played 372 snaps, drawing only two penalties. Injuries prevented him from playing Week 7 against the 49ers, but that may work to the benefit of the Red & Gold.

The Vikings could look at replacement Dalton Risner as the starter moving forward, allowing Cleveland to be shipped out for draft picks. He is in the final year of his contract as well, only more incentive to get something in return for him.

John Lynch and current Vikings GM Kwesi Adofo-Mensah were chatting up a storm prior to the Week 7 kickoff. Could that mean nothing or everything? Only time will tell.

DE Montez Sweat – Washington Commanders

The 49ers have already added defensive edge help in Randy Gregory, who has been good in limited appearances for the Red & Gold. But you can never have too much help in the trenches right?

Enter Montez Sweat.

This would be a home-run swing of a one-year rental, snagging a versatile pass rusher who is playing very good football at the moment. With a PFF grade of 76.5, Sweat is second in forced fumbles (2) and sixth in sacks (7) on the year. Only 27-years-old, he’d be the perfect fit opposite of Nick Bosa on the line.

But again, it’d be risky and pricey.

A third and a fourth would need to be in the deal, maybe even a young pass rusher like Drake Jackson as well. Can the 49ers risk all that? They can, but will they is the question?

How aggressive does John Lynch went to be, but reports have indicated that there are teams circling Sweat.

Other options: DE Danielle Hunter, G Mike Onwenu, CB Donte Jackson

Unrealistic Targets:

DE Brian Burns – Carolina Panthers

Reason for: Another star pass rusher for the 49ers, on an already star-studded roster. This is the biggest home-run swing John Lynch could make, one that would terrify offensive lines on a weekly basis.

Reason against: He’s too expensive, both in terms of trading for him and then re-signing him. San Francisco doesn’t have the cap space to keep everyone, meaning someone else is on the trade block if Burns comes to town.

Oh, and then this.

CB Patrick Surtain II – Denver Broncos

Reason for: Maybe the ultimate fix in the secondary, a do-it-all cover-man that wears receivers like velcro vests. He’s immediately the 49ers’ best CB, playing opposite of Charvarius Ward on the outside.

Reason against: Pretty much the same as Burns, it’d cost too much to trade for him. He’d be easier to fit in the salary cap though, only on Year 3 of his rookie deal.

DE Chase Young – Washington Commanders

Reason for: The other option in terms of star pass rushers available. While Young hasn’t shown the potential of his rookie season, the 49ers being tasked with finding it would make a fun challenge for this roster.

Reason against: Maybe too risky of a move for Lynch and Co., especially after all the injuries. Now in Year 4, that big extension is staring him in the face. And after paying Nick Bosa the bag, the 49ers probably aren’t doing that for anyone else on the defensive line.

T Garrett Bolles – Denver Broncos

Reason for: If the 49ers want another veteran option at tackle, the Broncos’ Bolles could be a good fit. He’s been steady for Denver this season and would be immediate competition for McKivitz’s spot.

Reason against: Money. Garett Bolles isn’t set to be a free agent until after the 2024-25 season. He has a cap hit of $17.8 million this year and $20 million next year.

Probably too rich for the 49ers at the moment.

G Nate Davis – Chicago Bears 

Reason for: Some more interior line help on offense. Davis gives competition to both Aaron banks and Spencer Burford, similar to Jon Feliciano.

Reason against: Same as Bolles, Money. Davis has one more year on his deal before a potential out in 2025. He will have a cap hit of $11.5 million next season.

Other options: Any disgruntled star on a bad team

Click here for more Return of the Empire with Nate Littlefield and Amil Fragoso.

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Upcoming San Francisco 49ers Schedule

  • Sunday, October 29th vs. Cincinnati Bengals – 1:25 PM PST
  • Sunday, November 12th @ Jacksonville Jaguars – 10:00 AM PST
  • Sunday, November 19th vs. Tampa Bay Buccaneers- 1:05 PM PST
  • Thursday, November 23rd @ Seattle Seahawks – 5:20 PM PST
  • Sunday, December 3rd @ Philadelphia Eagles – 1:25 PM PST

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