Every time there are reports of a disgruntled wide receiver or a big-name wideout on the trade block, the 49ers are widely mentioned as a possible destination.
Rarely, it seems, is there any truth to the speculation.
The 49ers had zero interest in Antonio Brown at the outset of the offseason, for reasons that became obvious to the rest of the world months later. The 49ers crossed him off their list due to concerns about his reliability, character and how he would fit into what the organization was trying to build.
That was certainly not the case with Odell Beckham. The 49ers had genuine interest in working out a deal with the New York Giants for Beckham at the beginning of the new league year.
How close did it get?
“Not close enough,” 49ers CEO Jed York answered two weeks after the trade that sent Beckham to the Cleveland Browns.
There was some degree of irritation within San Francisco's organization when the Giants made the deal with the Browns in March without giving the 49ers an opportunity to increase their initial offer.
The 49ers were not willing to part ways with DeForest Buckner, NBC Sports' Peter King reported. San Francisco balked at that proposal. Then, the Giants apparently wanted two first-round draft picks, including the 49ers’ No. 2 overall pick in the 2019 NFL Draft. Again, the 49ers said no.
The Browns acquired Beckham when they sent safety Jabrill Peppers, the No. 17 overall pick and a third-round pick (No. 95 overall) to the Giants. (The Giants considered Peppers a player of first-round value.) All indications are the 49ers were prepared to get creative to increase the value of the compensation they would send to New York. They never got that chance.
The 49ers will face Beckham on Monday when the clubs meet at Levi’s Stadium. Shanahan’s admiration of Beckham’s skills and style remains obvious.
“Odell’s a freak in the way he can move and his hands and people do not get how tough and good of a football player Odell is, also,” Shanahan said this week. “He’s physical and competes his tail off in the run game and the pass game.”
In four games with Baker Mayfield as his quarterback, Beckham leads the Browns with 21 receptions for 308 yards and one touchdown.
The 49ers' receiving corps consists of rookie Deebo Samuel, Dante Pettis, Marquise Goodwin, Richie James and Kendrick Bourne. San Francisco also added Jordan Matthews to its 53-man roster this week. Trent Taylor and rookie Jalen Hurd, a third-round draft pick, are stashed on injured reserve.
The trade that sent Beckham to the Browns -- not the 49ers -- has shaped the rosters of both teams.
If the 49ers had parted ways with the No. 2 overall pick for Beckham, defensive end Nick Bosa would likely be on the New York Giants. And the 49ers’ might not have taken Samuel with their second-round draft pick.
The 49ers would have still had an urgent need at edge rusher -- even after adding Dee Ford in a trade with the Kansas City Chiefs for a second-round draft pick in 2020.
The 49ers could have focused on adding a pass rusher with their second-round pick. After the first round, the next pass rusher to be chosen was Zach Allen of Boston College, whom the Arizona Cardinals selected at No. 65 overall. Allen did not make much of an impact in the first four games of the season, and he sat out Sunday’s game with a shoulder injury.
Lynch, speaking after the fact on KNBR, said the 49ers determined that giving up the opportunity to select Bosa was too steep of a price to pull off the trade to acquire Beckham.
“I think, ironically, the fact that we had the No. 2 pick made it more difficult because they wanted that badly,” Lynch said. “They wanted two No. 1s and we weren’t willing to part with that. That’s too valuable of a pick, even for a player of his magnitude.”