An interesting scenario was brought up in the 49ers’ subreddit the other day, as random people on the internet brought together by their love for the 49ers are wont to do.
In a discussion thread about Philadelphia Eagles LB Mychal Kendricks, 49ers fans batted around the idea of trading for the talented defensive player. Seeing as the Eagles recently re-upped LB DeMeco Ryans, Kendricks essentially became expendable. With that in mind, certain redditors were curious as to what the LB-needy team could do to pry him away from the city of Brotherly Love.
Then, came this:
It seems a bit off, at first – I mean, after all, Alex Boone is probably one of the team’s best offensive linemen, on an O-Line that is certainly lacking without Mike Iupati, who was lost to the Arizona Cardinals in free agency. And considering the line was pretty patchwork in 2014, it would seem foolhardy to trade such a valuable asset.
Then again, the redditor who brought up the idea does have a point – especially after the holdout drama between Boone and the team before last season, there’s the distinct possibility that the 27-year-old isn’t even sticking around after he becomes a free agent after the 2015 season. So, the hypothetical posits getting a talent in a position of need for Boone, instead of letting the talented guard go for nothing.
So, let’s see if I can follow this yellow brick road:
“What If” Scenario: Let’s say the 49ers trade Alex Boone to the Philadelphia Eagles for Mychal Kendricks, straight up.
1) It would seem that both sides get what they desperately need. The fact remains that, in light of recent developments, linebacker had suddenly become a major need for a team like the 49ers, that was known for stellar LB play, in the 2015 offseason.
Trading for a guy like Kendricks, who is only 25 and has the versatility that teams look for in an inside linebacker, would be smart for a team like San Francisco. He could platoon with guys like NaVorro Bowman and Michael Wilhoite and be effective in whatever defensive scheme the 49ers use in 2015.
As for Philadelphia, the rumor mill says they would prefer draft picks to players. However, getting a seasoned veteran at the guard spot for a team that will likely run new RB DeMarco Murray early and often in 2015 – a guard who, to be sure, knows a thing or two about smash mouth football – would prove valuable.
2) It might end public ire of losing names like Patrick Willis and Chris Borland. As I said before, it’s no secret that the linebacker position for the San Francisco 49ers – once their greatest defensive strength – is currently full of question marks.
Will NaVorro Bowman come back at full strength from his gruesome 2013 knee injury? Will the 49ers simply draft linebacker help? Can Michael Wilhoite step in as a reliable replacement? Can Ahmad Brooks make a transition from outside to inside linebacker?
These are the things the organization has to address, in the wake of the shocking retirements of LBs Patrick Willis and Chris Borland – retirements, to be sure, the 49er Faithful were not the least bit happy about.
Kendricks, no doubt, may not have the stellar production of a Willis, or even a Borland. But he certainly has the potential, and, as a local boy (hailing from Fresno, CA) in his fourth year in the league, he has yet to hit his prime. The fanbase would welcome such a player, and might begin to forget about the 49ers’ disastrous 2015 offseason sooner rather than later.
3) The 49ers would be clear in their rebuilding plan (or, at least, a big part of it) moving forward. Could the 49ers front office still address the linebacker position in free agency and in next month’s draft? Sure. After all, they just re-signed LB Desmond Bishop to a one-year deal, and are currently kicking the tires on former Chicago Bears Pro Bowler, and Elk Grove High native, Lance Briggs.
Also, lest we forget, the 49ers will still be in the market for marquis talent at both cornerback and wide receiver. Despite the acquisition of former Ravens WR Torrey Smith, they could still use a young speedster – say, like Louisville’s DeVante Parker. Then there’s Michigan State CB Trae Waynes – arguably the best defensive back prospect in the draft, that could fall to the 49ers at the 15th overall pick.
But, if they trade away one of their most talented offensive linemen from a unit already struggling, talent-wise, the team’s draft strategy would likely shift – maybe, say, to a marquis offensive lineman/guard prospect in the first round. T.J. Clemmings of Pittsburgh, Andrus Peat of Stanford and La’el Collins of LSU could be distinct possibilities, and if they covet someone in particular, I would expect GM Trent Baalke to pull the trigger on a trade up in the first round.
And, yes, that would mean losing out on top-tier WR and CB prospects. However, there are more to be found in the later rounds. After all, rookie CB Dontae Johnson – who performed admirably in his limited role in 2014 – was a fourth-round pick whose size will prove useful moving forward, and whose potential is yet to be discovered.
Obviously, all of this is speculation. But, it certainly sounds like a realistic possibility. And with the new 49ers regime making itself at home, it’s something that has the potential of being a big move – whether that’s to the front office’s benefit or bane, that can only be answered in September.