The 2017 NFL trade deadline is Tuesday, October 31 at 1:00pm PT. For a team like the 49ers, who are using this offseason to evaluate, weed out and build, this is an opportunity to make headway and get better.
Here is a look at five moves that would make sense for the team.
Move: Arik Armstead
The consensus is the 49ers still require an alpha on the edge to truly complete their front seven. It’s the Leo role that needs to be filled, the position within this defense where much of the sack production comes from. And Armstead, for all his superhuman gifts, does not look at home there in this new scheme under Robert Saleh. It’s not what he’s designed to do. It’s not what he was drafted to do.
If John Lynch and the front office have made a call on his future and are set on finding a more traditional edge prototype to complement the interior presence of Solomon Thomas and DeForest Buckner, they should look to move Armstead and see what they can get in return. Ideally, the team would net a pick or two that could in turn help them land their long-term replacement on the edge.
The caveat is that he is currently on injured reserve. The 49ers would have to find a trade partner that sees a long-term benefit to partake in the deal.
Move: Eric Reid
Eric Reid has moved to linebacker, and his gut reaction was that he didn’t like it. The former first-round pick who is currently in a contract year even went on to add that he didn’t like how his future with the team remained a mystery.
While Reid played well as a box safety, it seems the 49ers don’t view him as irreplaceable there. Jaquiski Tartt is now the starter on the back end – and come next offseason the 49ers will be able to find a more natural linebacker to play next to Reuben Foster. If they don’t plan to start him at safety and extend him, it makes sense for the 49ers to trade Reid for draft capital.
Move: Garrett Celek
The 49ers look like they’ve embraced the youth at tight end, and perhaps the future, by featuring rookies George Kittle and Cole Hikutini there. Former starter Vance McDonald was previously shipped to Pittsburgh, and his old backup, Celek, who remains in San Francisco, has fallen a couple pegs on the depth chart. At this stage in his career, we’ve seen what Celek is, and it’s not dynamic.
A seventh-round pick would be acceptable compensation here. The purpose would be more to clear a spot.
Acquire: T.Y. Hilton
Pro Football Talk reported that wideout T.Y. Hilton was one of two players the Colts would be open to trading, and he is a stud at a position of need. Hilton sets himself apart as one of the best route runners and downfield threats in the entire league. The three-time Pro Bowl receiver is coming off four consecutive 1,000+ yard seasons, including a league-leading campaign in 2016. At 28 years old, Hilton is on track to keep it going for a fifth straight season, and is averaging a career-best 18.2 yards per catch, even without Andrew Luck.
The wiggly 5-foot-10 pass-catcher also appears to be Kyle Shanahan’s type. And with the whole Marquise Goodwin experiment looking like a bust, there’s an open spot waiting for Hilton. This time, the 49ers settle it with a sure thing.
Acquire: Martavis Bryant
The 49ers know they’re going to get their quarterback soon enough—very likely in 2018. And it’d be nice to have a few weapons in the building when he arrives. So, whether it’s Hilton or Bryant or both, the 49ers need to start investing back into their offense.
Despite Mike Tomlin's stance on a trade, the coach appears to be done with Bryant, and Steelers rookie JuJu Smith-Schuster made sure he was expendable Sunday night with a seven-catch, 193-yard performance.
That's good news for the 49ers, if they're interested.
Bryant is a 25-year-old big-play threat that has showcased incredible ability here and there, but hasn’t had the volume to prove himself as a true WR1 in this league, which could make him a low-risk, high-reward acquisition. Bryant is a tall 6-foot-4 that runs in the low 4.4s, and he’s not a one-trick pony. If the scenery change proves to be one of those instances where it's cathartic for the player, the 49ers could have a serious playmaker on their hands.
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