Robinson perfect fit for 49ers, but trade would be tricky

  • Editor's note: This story was published before the 49ers signed receiver Mohamed Sanu on Tuesday.

As rumors start to swirl about the Cleveland Browns shopping Odell Beckham Jr. (it's a no, 49ers fans), another top receiver reportedly could be on the move.

On Tuesday, Allen Robinson removed all mention of the Chicago Bears from his social media accounts and requested a trade from the Windy City after growing frustrated with long-term contract extension talks, Brad Biggs of the Chicago Tribune reported.

Robinson, 27, is one of the best young receivers in the NFL despite playing his entire career with Blake Bortles and Mitchell Trubisky throwing him passes. Last season, Robinson caught 98 passes for 1,147 yards and seven touchdowns, and he put those numbers up on the NFL's worst passing offense by yards per play. His 26 contested catches were the most by any receiver in 2019, and he was the best receiver on corner routes, according to NFL's Next Gen Stats.

Robinson is in the final year of a three-year, $42 million contract and is looking to get a lucrative new deal, which Bears general manager Ryan Pace said the team is working to complete.

The 49ers' wide receivers have been dropping like flies ever since training camp started. They dressed just four receivers in their Week 1 loss to the Arizona Cardinals and finished the game with just three after Richie James Jr. left with a hamstring injury.

Deebo Samuel is out until at least Week 4 as he rehabs from a broken foot suffered this offseason, while rookie Brandon Aiyuk has been sidelined with a hamstring ailment. Add star tight end George Kittle's sprained knee to that list and the 49ers are in need of some kind of help in the pass-catching department.


Robinson, obviously, would be a great fit in Kyle Shanahan's offense, and general manager John Lynch should certainly pick up the phone to inquire about a deal. The 49ers know their window is now and their roster is good enough to win a Super Bowl title when healthy. But the losses at wide receiver put them in a precarious position. Running back Raheem Mostert was their leading receiver in Week 1, and a lot of pressure will be on Aiyuk, who is slated to return this Sunday against the New York Jets, if Samuel can't return by Week 4.

Robinson would come in right away and be the 49ers' top receiver. But that deal isn't as easy as it would be in Madden. Robinson is hunting for a lucrative new contract. Any deal for Robinson would likely have to come with a contract extension that would give Robinson $20 million a year, in line with the new contract Amari Cooper just signed this past offseason.

It wouldn't be impossible for the 49ers to swing that contract, but they just gave Kittle an extension before the season started and would like to get extensions with Trent Williams and Fred Warner worked out soon as well. They also have to keep in mind a future big payday for Nick Bosa in the coming years.

Would the 49ers be willing to trade draft capital for a one-year rental? That seems unlikely, and Robinson almost certainly would want a new deal to be done before agreeing to join a new team.

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This could all be a negotiating tactic from Robinson, who obviously doesn't want to risk significant injury before having his big payday wrapped up.

However, it would also be understandable if he truly wants out of Chicago. In his young career, Robinson has caught passes from Bortles, Trubisky, Chad Henne, Chase Daniel and Bryan Walters. He has been a Pro Bowl receiver without the benefit of an accurate quarterback or a dynamic offensive scheme.

Robinson would give the 49ers the dynamic weapon they need in the passing game. He's young, talented and has never rocked the boat despite the offenses he has found himself in.

It's highly unlikely Robinson will find his way to the Bay, but the 49ers should at least see what it might cost to acquire one of the best receivers in the NFL.