How DeForest Buckner, George Kittle, Arik Armstead impact 49ers' trade view


How DeForest Buckner, George Kittle, Arik Armstead impact 49ers' trade view

The 49ers have known for a while that defensive lineman DeForest Buckner and tight end George Kittle were in line for big-money contract extensions.

And, now, it has become obvious it will take a huge investment to retain defensive lineman Arik Armstead beyond this season.

“What Arik needs to do is keep on playing at that level and he’s going to make his life really easy because a lot of people are going to coveting him, along with us,” general manager John Lynch said on "49ers Game Plan," which airs Saturday at 7 p.m. on NBC Bay Area (Ch. 3).

When the 49ers consider the pros and cons of pursuing a trade to add a veteran player, such as Jacksonville cornerback Jalen Ramsey, they must consider the long-term effect of parting ways with a draft pick or two as well as the salary cap implications for adding another big-money contract.

“We talk about not just having success but having sustained success,” Lynch said. “We want to build this thing. Every move we’ve made is with the mindset of being successful now, but we also want this to be sustainable.

“You have to look at long-term planning, which we’re always doing in terms of guys we’re very happy with and their contracts are coming up and we have an opportunity to re-sign and keep them around for a long time. So there’s a ton of planning that goes into it.”

For instance, if the 49ers were to entertain a trade for Ramsey or Washington offensive tackle Trent Williams, the club would consider more than how the player would fit in with the current roster. The 49ers already have gauged the long-term impact of losing the draft selections, as well as signing an established veteran to a long-term extension that would make him one of the team’s highest-paid players.

The 49ers currently are $26.8 million under the NFL’s salary cap, according to figures from the NFL Players Association. Unused cap room rolls over from one year to the next.

Buckner is scheduled to earn more than $14 million in 2020 on the fifth-year option – the final year of his contract. The 49ers are eligible to negotiate a contract extension with Kittle after this season, which is the third year of his original four-year contract.

“Those guys are pretty obvious, in terms of what they bring on the field, in terms of who they are as people,” Lynch said. “They check all the boxes. Those are guys who are extremely important to us.”

[RELATED: What Bosa has to improve on despite stellar start]

Armstead is moving himself into that category, too.

Armstead is scheduled for unrestricted free agency after this season, as he plays on the fifth-year option at more than $9 million. Armstead has gotten off to his best start with two sacks in the team’s first three games.

“What I love about Arik, he’s playing like the guy he was capable of being and playing with a tremendous amount of vigor, intensity, power,” Lynch said.

”I think he really meshes well with what (first-year 49ers defensive line coach) Kris Kocurek has brought in terms of mentality and how we want to play. And it’s all falling into place with him.”

Saints' Sean Payton snaps over failed two-point conversion vs. 49ers

Saints' Sean Payton snaps over failed two-point conversion vs. 49ers

Saints coach Sean Payton wasn't in a mood to be second-guessed following his team's last-minute Week 14 loss to the 49ers.

San Francisco ultimately won the thrilling back-and-forth matchup by two measly points -- a game in which New Orleans attempted two two-point conversions.

Both failed.

After Tre'Quan Smith scored on an 18-yard touchdown pass to give New Orleans a 46-45 lead with 53 seconds remaining, quarterback Drew Brees went back to the same well for the two-point conversion attempt, but the pass intended fell incomplete. On the ensuing possession, 49ers tight end George Kittle caught a 39-yard reception on fourth-and-2, eventually setting up a game-winning Robbie Gould 30-yard field goal as time expired.

But after the tough loss, it was the former two-point try, not the latter, that Payton was questioned about -- while shopping for groceries, no less.

"I certainly understand the fans asking questions," Payton said Thursday on his weekly WWL Radio show. "I got the guy at frickin' Whole Foods asking me about the two-point play. I looked at him, the guy in the meat section, and I said, 'Hey, your steaks don't look too good right now. Worry about your frickin' meat.' "

Oh man. What's the over/under on how many "Worry about your frickin' meat" shirts will be at the Superdome when the Saints host the Colts on Monday night?

The play in question occurred midway through the first quarter, after Saints tight end Jared Cook hauled in his second touchdown reception of the contest. The 49ers were assessed a personal foul on the play, and rather than take the yardage on the kickoff, Payton couldn't pass up being so close to the goal line.

On the two-point try, Brees handed the ball off to a motioning Taysom Hill, who promptly was stuffed by multiple San Francisco defenders well short of the end zone. 

"I didn't feel like kicking a touchback, thought about kicking an onside kick," Payton explained. "So on the 1-yard line, I think we're gonna get two points. And then we get the defense misaligned -- obviously it doesn't have any success. And then the game ends, and, 'Why were you going for two?' Because I wanted to. We were on the 1-yard line."

Misaligned, huh? Payton was correct in stating that the 49ers were in an atypical alignment with two safeties on the same side of the field, but according to San Francisco defensive coordinator Robert Saleh, that was intentional.

"We knew it was coming," Saleh said Thursday in response to Payton's claim that one of the safeties accidentally lined up on the wrong side. "I’m not going to say he wasn’t on the right side because of the way we execute certain things and all our different goal-line packages that we have, but that play was a gimme one to me with Taysom Hill where he was aligned. That was a layup in my opinion."

[RELATED: 49ers severely battered, bruised with three regular-season games to go]

The tape sure seems to suggest the 49ers knew what was coming:

The Saints hung 46 points on the 49ers, so clearly, not many of Payton's play-calls were of the layup variety. But the first two-point attempt?

You might say he butchered that one.

George Kittle's strong run-blocking skills for 49ers proved by stat

George Kittle's strong run-blocking skills for 49ers proved by stat

"George Kittle, not really a blocker ... "

We didn't say this, but FS1's Doug Gottlieb sure did. And Gottlieb certainly heard the comments from everyone online essentially saying he didn't know what he was talking about.

But if you still need numbers to back up the 49ers tight end's elite blocking skills, Next Gen Stats has you covered: 

Kittle certainly has a presence -- both in the run and the pass game -- and the numbers show that. 

49ers coach Kyle Shanahan has praised Kittle's run-blocking game before, which only adds to the evidence proving sometimes, it's best to watch Kittle continue in his greatness -- no comments necessary.

[RELATED: Kittle was key success in run game vs. Ravens]

To add to it, Gottlieb's comments came after the 49ers' Week 13 20-17 loss to the Baltimore Ravens, one where the tight end received an overall 72.9 grade from Pro Football Focus and a 78.1 run-blocking grade.

That was Kittle's best run-blocking grade of the season to that point.