The 49ers made a serious play for former Raiders edge rusher Khalil Mack before the blockbuster deal that sent him to the Chicago Bears.
General manager John Lynch said Saturday in a conference call with Bay Area reporters that the 49ers went after Mack, a three-time Pro Bowl player who recorded 36 ½ sacks over the past three seasons.
“We’d have been foolish not to,” Lynch answered when asked if the 49ers pursued Mack in a trade.
“The guy is a spectacular player. We’ve always said we’re going to exhaust every option to improve our team, so we did. We went in aggressively, but also knowing we had to set some parameters. And we did, and somebody else landed him. And we’re excited about our team.”
The Bears received Mack, a 2020 second-round draft pick and a conditional 2020 fifth-round pick from the Raiders in exchange for first-round picks in 2019 and ’20, a third-round selection in 2020 and a sixth-round pick in 2019, according to ESPN.
Of course, if the 49ers would have come up with the compensation necessary to acquire Mack's rights from the Raiders, they would have been prepared to meet his contract demands, too. The Bears signed Mack on Saturday to a six-year, $141 million contract to become the highest-paid defensive player in the league. Mack's deal eclipses the six-year, $135 million extension defensive tackle Aaron Donald signed this week with the Los Angeles Rams.
The 49ers do not have any established edge rushers on their 53-man roster. Solomon Thomas and Arik Armstead will line up at defensive end in base downs, and DeForest Buckner could rush from the outside, too. Cassius Marsh, Ronald Blair and Dekoda Watson can be used in nickel situations as outside rushers.
The 49ers released edge rusher Jeremiah Attaochu, along with 20 other players, to reach the 53-player limit on Saturday.