The 49ers had an offensive breakthrough in Week 2. Now, an opportunity for a defensive one has presented itself.
While San Francisco was laying waste to the Bengals, the Jaguars were getting frustrated in a close divisional loss to the Texans. That frustration boiled over in a sideline exchange between Jacksonville head coach Doug Marrone and Pro Bowl cornerback Jalen Ramsey, in which both men had to be separated. The emotions haven't died down in the aftermath, apparently, as Ramsey reportedly requested a trade Monday.
ESPN's Adam Schefter and Chris Mortensen were the first to report the trade demand, citing Ramsey's agent, David Mulugheta. According to Schefter, the Jaguars are already looking into trading their talented defensive back, and are seeking significant draft compensation in return.
Now, 49ers. Now is the time to act.
Just like Minkah Fitzpatrick, who similarly recently requested a trade from the dumpster fire that is the Miami Dolphins, San Francisco should be willing to do whatever it takes to put Ramsey in a 49ers uniform.
For starters, Ramsey is arguably the best cornerback in all of football. If he isn't the best, he's near the top of the list. In his three-plus seasons in the NFL, he's started all 50 games, made two Pro Bowls and has been named a First-Team All-Pro. He'll turn 25 years old in October, and at 6-1, 208 lbs with a 4.41 40-yard dash and 41.5-inch vertical, he's a perfect fit for San Francisco's defensive system. Pro Football Focus ranked him as the second-best cornerback in the NFL entering the current season.
A first-round draft pick (and additional filler) is well worth it to acquire a player of Ramsey's ilk, particularly given San Francisco's current trajectory. At 2-0 with a beat-up Steelers team coming into town, the 49ers look as if they'll be in playoff contention this season. Whether or not they end their playoff drought, you can expect their own 2020 first-round draft pick to fall in the late teens at best, if not the 20s. As such, Ramsey -- and Fitzpatrick, for that matter -- are far superior talents to whichever prospect would be available to San Francisco at that selection. Both Ramsey (24) and Fitzpatrick (22) are proven commodities, and just a couple years older -- at most -- than whoever they would pick in the first round next April.
And yes, the 49ers already are without their 2020 second-round draft pick, given away in the trade to acquire Dee Ford. But, again, odds are that Ramsey will have a significantly better career than anyone they'll find on the first two days of the draft. San Francisco doesn't want its draft cupboards to be bare, but there are ways to add additional picks in the later rounds. Not to mention, it's not as if the 49ers have been crushing it with their recent first-round draft selections.
Now, you may be saying that while Ramsey is worth a first-round draft pick, the 49ers simply don't need him, given they have Richard Sherman locking down one side, and Ahkello Witherspoon looking strong through the first two games of the season. Need I remind you, however, that Witherspoon looked extremely shaky last season, even being benched at times, and while he has looked improved, his best highlight is an interception returned for a touchdown that was thrown directly to him.
Simply put, the 49ers can't be sure that Witherspoon will come anywhere close to Ramsey's level. They brought in Jason Verrett to compete with Witherspoon in training camp, and while the third-year cornerback won that battle, Verrett was inactive against the Bengals, so maybe that competition wasn't as heated as initially expected. And, even if Witherspoon did bloom into a lockdown cornerback a la Ramsey, San Francisco would soon have to pay him a boatload once his rookie contract concludes at the end of next season. Meanwhile, Sherman will turn 32 in March, and is less than two years removed from a torn Achilles.
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Now, 49ers. Now is the time to act.