49ers

2020 NFL Draft: How DeForest Buckner could influence 49ers to trade down

2020 NFL Draft: How DeForest Buckner could influence 49ers to trade down

Whomever the 49ers select with the No. 13 overall pick in the 2020 NFL Draft will always be compared head-to-head against defensive tackle DeForest Buckner.

Little attention will be paid to the contract sizes. Buckner is scheduled to make $21 million annually over the next four seasons, while the choice at No. 13 will check in at approximately $4 million per year over the length of his four-year deal.

This will always go down as a one-for-one trade, however misleading that might be. The 49ers sent Buckner to the Indianapolis Colts for their first-round pick in the 2020 draft.

Generally, when teams trade a high-caliber, proven player with many years ahead of him, such as Buckner, they understandably want to parlay that move into acquiring multiple players.

Maybe it’s because of the value of adding two or more players while trading away one player. Maybe it’s because teams want to sidestep those head-to-head comparisons. Maybe they want to avoid placing undo pressure and expectations onto a rookie who has enough to worry about upon entering the NFL.

Most recently, the New England Patriots did this after receiving the 49ers’ pick at No. 43 overall in the 2018 NFL Draft in exchange for Jimmy Garoppolo.

Bill Belichick traded out of No. 43. The Patriots picked up a later selection in the second round in addition to a fourth-rounder. When the draft was over, the Patriots had made four trades involving the original pick and the picks acquired in trades. Good luck trying to figure out, exactly, which players the Patriots acquired in connection with the Garoppolo trade.

The 49ers did the same thing four years earlier after they traded Alex Smith to the Kansas City Chiefs for second-round picks in the 2013 and 2014 drafts.

Then-49ers general manager Trent Baalke flipped those two draft selections in five players -- Tank Carradine, Corey Lemonier, Carlos Hyde and Chris Borland -- along with another trade that enabled them to acquire veteran wide receiver Stevie Johnson.

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The 49ers will have plenty of options at different positions with the No. 13 overall pick. If they love a player in that spot, they will undoubtedly make their selection.

Nobody would be surprised if the 49ers address wide receiver, offensive tackle, cornerback and defensive line with any of their top selections.

[RELATED49ers, Raiders go offense/defense in latest mock NFL draft]

But if one or two targeted players are not there when it’s the 49ers’ turn to select in three weeks, they will almost assuredly look to bail out of No. 13. That would allow the 49ers to pick up more selections to take advantage of what is expected to be a deep draft at a number of different positions of need.

And it would also give the 49ers the opportunity to select more than one front-line starter to soften the blow of trading Buckner.

49ers' Jimmy Garoppolo absorbs Joe Montana's wisdom about winning

49ers' Jimmy Garoppolo absorbs Joe Montana's wisdom about winning

Throughout NFL history, of quarterbacks to start at least 100 career games, only Tom Brady (.773) and Roger Staubach (.746) have posted better regular-season winning percentages than 49ers legend Joe Montana (.713). So, when it comes to knowing the secrets to victory, he's a pretty good source of advice.

Montana won 117 of his 164 career regular-season starts, precisely 100 victories of which came with San Francisco. On Wednesday, he posted a photo on Instagram from the final one of those wins with the 49ers, in which he offered up a secret to his success.

"Winners, I am convinced, imagine their dreams first," Montana wrote. "They want it with all their heart and expect it to come true. There is, I believe, no other way to live."
As of the time of this writing, that post had received 15,685 likes, one of which came from another 49ers quarterback who happens to have a knack for winning as well -- Jimmy Garoppolo.

[RELATED: Where Jimmy G, Carr rank among NFL starting quarterbacks]

Jimmy G, of course, displayed his penchant for winning immediately upon joining the 49ers, winning his first five starts after San Francisco acquired him midway through the 2017 season. Across 24 regular-season starts with the 49ers, he has posted a 19-5 record (.792). Not to mention, he was arguably one missed completion away from winning Super Bowl LIV.

Garoppolo might have his own secrets to his success, but it certainly can't hurt if he picks up a thing or two from Joe Cool.

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NFL rumors: George Kittle, 49ers 'not close at all' on new contract

NFL rumors: George Kittle, 49ers 'not close at all' on new contract

George Kittle is the best tight end in the NFL. He just doesn't want to be paid like it.

Kittle arguably is the 49ers' best overall player, and an indispensable part of their operation. He is a leader in the locker room, their top receiving threat and his blocking ability is closer to that of an above-average offensive lineman. Perhaps that's why his agent is looking to get him paid -- not as a tight end, receiver or linemen -- but rather, some combination of those positions.

"I've been talking a lot to [Kittle's] agent, Jack Bechta, over the last couple of months and he has consistently said, 'I don't care about the tight end market; I'm being paid to do a George Kittle deal,'" NFL Network's Michael Silver said Friday on "NFL Total Access." "And I tend to agree with him here. He is their No. 1 target, so important in that locker room, and clearly, he is doing something that transcends what a typical tight end does."

Last season, Kittle led San Francisco with 85 receptions (on 107 targets) for 1,053 yards despite missing two games due to injury. His 3,106 receiving yards (including the playoffs) are the most ever in NFL history by a tight end in his first three seasons. And, as Silver noted, with Kittle in the lineup last season, the 49ers -- heading into Super Bowl LIV -- averaged 5.6 yards on rushes outside of the tackles; when he was out of the lineup, that number dropped to 3.3 yards.

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He is a dynamic offensive weapon, which adds to the complexity of his contract negotiations. Back in 2014, Bears tight end Jimmy Graham signed a four-year, $40 million contract that reset the market at that position, and in the time since, there has been minimal growth. According to Over the Cap, Chargers tight end Hunter Henry currently averages the highest annual salary at the position at $10.607 million.

It isn't expected to be a quick or simple negotiation, and it's easy to see why. San Francisco, of course, would love to secure Kittle on as low of an agreeable salary as possible, but it's assumed both sides have differing opinions -- at least initially -- on exactly what that would be.

And, as Silver reported, it doesn't sound like Kittle and the 49ers are closing in on a deal anytime soon.

"They're not close at all," Silver said. "There were some preliminary talks back in February; nothing for the last couple months. ... This is a difficult situation because during a pandemic, owners are not super eager to shell out massive deals. There's a lot of uncertainty. And so I'm not sure how much of this situation can be attributed to the unique COVID-19 situation, and how much of it is just a gap in how each side views this. I know there's a lot of good intention. You talk to the 49ers, they say, 'We want him. We will get this done.' I know George Kittle wants to be there, but they have a ways to go in terms of figuring out his value."

[RELATED: Pay the man: Why Kittle deserves to be paid like top WR]

Ultimately, if San Francisco and Kittle can't come to an agreement, the 49ers always have the option of applying the franchise tag on him next offseason when he is scheduled to be an unrestricted free agent. That would pay him the average of the top-five players at his position in 2021.

Of course, first, they must come to an agreement on what his position is.