49ers

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:

Positive

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.

Negative

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. 

Positive

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.

Negative

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?

Positive

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.

Negative

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.

Positive

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.

Negative

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?]

Positive

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.

Negative

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.

NFL draft: 49ers considering all options, including trade of No. 2 pick

NFL draft: 49ers considering all options, including trade of No. 2 pick

PHOENIX – The 49ers have not necessarily narrowed down their list of potential targets for the No. 2 overall pick.

Although there is reason to believe former Ohio State defensive end Nick Bosa tops the team’s list, the 49ers are still formulating a plan to consider all options, including potential trades, that could become available prior to next month’s draft.

The 49ers have six draft picks, including the No. 2 overall selection.

“We’re looking at a ton of people right there and kind of figuring out, ‘OK, if we’re here, this is what we’re doing,’ ” 49ers general manager John Lynch said. “If not, we got to be prepared to understand who are the guys we like that we think can make us a better football team.”

The NFL owners meeting is a time when coaches and general managers can get together over a cold, icy or neat beverage to discuss different trade scenarios.

On the surface, the 49ers’ decision at No. 2 looks simple: Come up with two names, in order. If the Arizona Cardinals take the first player on the list at No. 1 overall, select the second guy on the list.

Boom! There you go.

But 49ers CEO Jed York said it’s imperative for Lynch, coach Kyle Shanahan and executive vice president of football operations Paraag Marathe to have a more detailed plan in place.

“We’re very, very happy with players who will be there at two,” York said. “And we need to be prepared, if somebody offers a trade that is too good to pass up, we need to know what we’ll do if we move back and what would we not take.

“You have to have that planned out beforehand because if you’re trying to figure all that stuff out, it’s OK in the second or third round, but when you’re the second pick in the draft, you can’t do that on the fly. It’s way, way too hard, so you need to get a sense of it.”

Bosa, Alabama defensive tackle Quinnen Williams and Kentucky edge rusher Josh Allen are scheduled to visit the 49ers next month. Each is worthy of serious consideration for a high draft pick.

“You really want to come out of it with a player who is really going to be able to change the fortunes of your franchise,” Lynch said. “This year is a draft that’s very deep and there are also very good players at the top, so I think we’re in good position.”

The 49ers finished last season with a 4-12 record to be assigned the No. 2 overall pick. They need at least one difference-making player to make an immediate impact.

“I don’t expect to be drafting in the top two again, and if that’s the case, you have to add really, really talented players,” York said. “Or you have to get a ton of capital in order to move back, so you can make up for maybe not getting that No. 2 guy in the draft, but you’re getting a lot in return if you’re going to give up that opportunity.”

[RELATED: Lynch says McKinnon fits 49ers' plan for upcoming season]

The first wave of free agency has ended, and the attention shifts toward the three-day draft, which kicks off on April 25. The conversations at the owners meeting are an important part of the draft process.

“Things aren’t fully in focus, yet, in terms of what everybody is going to do,” York said. “But this week helps you at least get a better sense of that and just keep working toward your plan so you’re ready when the whistle blows come draft day.”

49ers aim for multi-year contract with Robbie Gould after franchise tag

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USATSI

49ers aim for multi-year contract with Robbie Gould after franchise tag

PHOENIX — 49ers kicker Robbie Gould might not be overjoyed about being locked in for one season as the team's franchise player.

But general manager John Lynch said Monday at the NFL owners meeting the club remains hopeful of reaching an agreement on a multi-year contract.

“We had a conversation with his representation at the combine,” Lynch said. “The franchise (tag) was something that we have at our disposal that we are going to use because he’s a very good player and we don’t want to let him go.”

Gould has yet to sign his tender that would pay him $4.97 million for the 2019 season. He is not obligated to participate in the offseason program, as his pay does not go into effect until Week 1. HIs previous contract with the team was a two-year, $4 million agreement.

“We worked really hard to try to get a deal done,” Lynch said. “That didn’t happen and so I think we understand that, and we move forward accordingly.”

It remains to be seen if Gould will report to the facility for any of the offseason program or training camp. Lynch left open the possibility of working out a multi-year deal.

“That’s not dead, either,” Lynch said. “I think the franchise gives you some flexibility in that the player is a part of you, but we’re still trying to figure it out and (will) probably take another go at trying to figure this out. It takes everyone wanting to do that. We’ll see if that’s a reality or not.”

Franchise players holding out, as seen by ex-Pittsburgh Steelers running back Le’Veon Bell, can create a distraction for the team. As a veteran kicker, the negative impact would likely be minimized, but Lynch pointed out how his presence is important.

“A lot of the work that they do is unsung,” Lynch said. “They do a lot to the side where they are working with the holder and the mechanics, and with the long snapper. It’s a lot of things. You probably don’t see all the work that they’re doing, but it’s important. You miss out on some of that.”

[RELATED: Lynch says McKinnon fits 49ers' plan for upcoming season]

Gould led the league in accuracy in 2018, making 97.1-percent of his field-goal attempts. In 2017, he led the league in made field goals with 39. He has been a valuable part of the 49ers, who were last in the league in red-zone efficiency last season.

"We don’t know that he’s not going to be a part of us in the offseason and all those things,” Lynch said. “So we’ll see where that goes.”