Antonio Brown trade: Pros, cons of 49ers possibly acquiring receiver

Antonio Brown trade: Pros, cons of 49ers possibly acquiring receiver

Veteran wide receiver Antonio Brown on Tuesday said goodbye to the Pittsburgh Steelers fan base.

Since the end of the season, he has made it known he wishes to play for the 49ers.

Of course, Brown remains under contract to the Steelers, so the 49ers are not allowed to publicly discuss the potential of Brown playing in Santa Clara next season.

Behind the scenes, though, the 49ers have discussed the possibilities and weighed the pros and cons associated with such a move.

Here are some of the elements the 49ers would have to consider in making a decision at what level to pursue Brown:


Brown is a seven-time Pro Bowl receiver and four-time All Pro selection. He has six consecutive seasons of 1,200 yards or more receiving. The 49ers need an upgrade at wide receiver.

Kendrick Bourne led the wideouts last season with 487 yards. In 2017, Marquise Goodwin had 962 yards receiving, but coach Kyle Shanahan considers Goodwin more of a role player. Brown's presence could take pressure off tight end George Kittle, as well as attract attention away from everyone else on offense.


Brown has been in the NFL for nine seasons and turns 31 in July. Will Brown still be a productive player when the 49ers are in a position to be legitimate contenders? The 49ers want to pursue a younger player, such as 26-year-old Odell Beckham, whose window of vast production is likely to be open longer. 


Brown is making it difficult for the Steelers to keep him around, regardless of what they get in return. He would count $21 million in dead money, but the Steelers will probably need to make a decision by March 18, when he is due a $2.5 million roster bonus.

The 49ers would likely not have to give up a pick on either of the first two days of the draft. They could also send an expendable player to the Steelers in return.


Despite being an ultra-productive player on a team that was always in contention, Brown was unhappy. That is a red flag. He had his issues with Ben Roethlisberger. Those two teamed up for more than 100 receptions six consecutive seasons.

Roethlisberger is about as good as it could have gotten for Brown to maximize his abilities. If he is not happy with his star status with the Steelers, how would he respond in the likely event his production drops with a new team?


The 49ers do not want to give up compensation to the Steelers that could prevent them from building out the remainder of team. But if the Steelers can’t find a trade partner, they might be inclined to cut him. That would make him a free agent, and any team could sign him without surrendering a valuable draft pick.


If Brown hits the open market, the 49ers would still have to come through with a big-money contract to prevent him from signing elsewhere. Currently, Brown is on the books for the Steelers to make $15.125 million this year, $11.3 million in 2020, and $12.5 million in 2021.


The 49ers have an estimated $60 million in salary cap space, so they would have little problem fitting in a lucrative contract for a proven player.


Shanahan and general manager John Lynch always say that players pay attention to who gets the big contracts. Those high-priced players become the models for the rest of the team. Brown experienced drama within the Steelers locker room and off the field, too.

[RELATED: Could Antonio Brown cost 49ers just a sixth-round draft pick in trade?]


The 49ers have restructured their coaching staff. Mike LaFleur coached the wide receivers the past two seasons. LaFleur is regarded as an excellent coach. But new receivers coach Wes Welker was an All-Pro wide receiver who steps in with instant credibility and a way to relate to players, such as Brown, that LaFleur could not.


The 49ers might be more willing to take a risk if they believe they are just one player away from being championship contenders. Quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo is likely to experience some rough patches. After all, he has started only 10 career games and has a lot to learn.

He is also coming off an ACL injury that limited him to just three games last season. The 49ers must continue to exercise patience, as the team looks to build its culture.

49ers practice report: George Kittle expected to play vs. Washington

49ers practice report: George Kittle expected to play vs. Washington

SANTA CLARA -- 49ers tight end George Kittle showed up on the injury report with a groin strain last Friday. Two days later, he looked completely healthy going up against the Los Angeles Rams.

Kittle was held out of practice on Wednesday, but he returned to limited work during the 49ers’ padded work on Thursday at their team facility. Kittle downplayed the team’s report of his physical condition and is expected to play Sunday against Washington.

Kittle caught eight passes for 103 yards in the 49ers’ 20-7 victory over the Rams on Sunday.

However, the 49ers had seven players who did not participate in Thursday's practice. Fullback Kyle Juszczyk, tackles Joe Staley and Mike McGlinchey and cornerback Ahkello Witherspoon remain out of action.

[RELATED: McGlinchey had tough time watching 49ers' win from home]

Running back Raheem Mostert (knee), wide receiver Deebo Samuel (groin) and nose tackle D.J. Jones (hamstring) sustained injuries in the 49ers’ win over the Rams that have kept them from practicing thus far this week.

49ers practice report

Did not practice
DT D.J. Jones (hamstring)
FB Kyle Juszczyk (knee)
T Mike McGlinchey (knee)
RB Raheem Mostert (knee)
WR Deebo Samuel (groin)
T Joe Staley (fibula)
CB Ahkello Witherspoon (foot)

DE Dee Ford (quadricep)
TE George Kittle (groin)
CB K'Waun Williams (hand)

Washington practice report

Did not practice
S Deshazor Everett (ankle)
LB Josh Harvey-Clemons (hamstring)
G Wes Martin (chest)  
CB Josh Norman (thigh, hand)
RB Chris Thompson (toe)

TE Vernon Davis (concussion)

Full participation
QB Case Keenum (right shoulder, foot)
RB Adrian Peterson (quadricep)

Arik Armstead not thinking about contract amid breakout year for 49ers

Arik Armstead not thinking about contract amid breakout year for 49ers

SANTA CLARA — Not too long ago, 49ers defensive lineman Arik Armstead had trouble staying on the field and was labeled as someone who was not living up to first-round expectations. 

Armstead only was able to suit up for 14 games from 2016-2017, landing on injured reserve both seasons. But fast-forward to Week 7 of 2019, and Armstead is making a case for huge contract after he closes out his fifth season with San Francisco.

Armstead is set to have a career-best season, as he's already racked up 2.5 sacks, four quarterback hits, one forced fumble, one fumble recovery, and 20 total tackles, four of which were for a loss. The 49ers defense has been bolstered by several offseason additions, including edge rushers Dee Ford and Nick Bosa, and Armstead has been reaping the rewards. 

“It’s been great,” Armstead told NBC Sports Bay Area. “As a whole defense, they’ve had a big impact. It’s fun playing with great players. Those guys are extremely talented and they bring a whole different element to the defense.” 

With the edges sealed up, Armstead has been able to enjoy putting his hand in the dirt next to long-time teammate DeForest Buckner. The two have been playing together since their time at the University of Oregon. Both former Ducks stand 6-foot-7, and limit a quarterback's downfield vision tremendously. 

“Super fun, like it’s always been going out there with a great friend,” Armstead said. “We’ve been going to battle together for a long time. Just trying to go out there and dominate and have an impact on our team like we have had over the years.” 

Armstead won’t admit thinking about if his NFL future includes playing with the 49ers beyond this year. He has been focused on each opponent as they come, while enjoying the team’s victories -- at least just a little bit. 

“I’m just taking it week by week,” Armstead said. “Contract stuff, it’s out of my control. Nobody really knows what’s going to happen with that. All I can focus on is preparing for the game and try to go out there and dominate and win my matchups and show what I can do.”

[RELATED: How 49ers will attack trade deadline at every position]

Armstead has used his production on the field not only to increase his own future contract value, but also to fund equal opportunities in education for underserved youth in his home town of Sacramento. He is donating $1,000 dollars for every sack and $250 for every tackle he makes this season to his foundation. He previously raised $100,000 at his charity gala to fund programs. 

One of the events that Armstead created with his foundation was a trip for 30 students to spend the entire day at 49ers headquarters. They participated in a career panel with 49ers employees as well as getting a tour of the facility.

For more information on donating to Armstead’s foundation, visit www.arikarmstead91.com.