The 49ers are unlikely to make a big splash ahead of the Nov. 3 trade deadline for a number of reasons, none larger than their limited cap space and desire not to further deplete their arsenal of future draft picks. However, if the right situation presented itself, perhaps San Francisco would jump.
There are only a few positions that would qualify. If the 49ers are going to make a considerable investment in a trade acquisition, it will most definitely be for someone who is a significant upgrade at a position of need. And they don't have a bigger need than pressure off the edge.
The season-ending injuries to Nick Bosa and Solomon Thomas were huge blows that have been compounded by Dee Ford's extended absence. Arik Armstead and Kerry Hyder have been very effective, but the 49ers simply don't have the depth to rotate players without losing productivity.
That's why the 49ers traded for Jordan Willis last week. He was forced to sit out the 33-6 win over the New England Patriots due to COVID-19 regulations, but the athletic freak likely will fill one of the current openings on the active roster and be on the field for the huge game against the rival Seattle Seahawks on Sunday. Willis hasn't produced much at the NFL level, but the 49ers are confident he can thrive in their system.
Willis was an under-the-radar addition, the kind the 49ers could make without sacrificing significant salary-cap space or draft compensation. Of course, there's a reason the acquiring cost was as small as it was. The 49ers surely are hoping Willis will contribute to the playoff push, but they can't exactly count on him being a difference-maker.
The same could not be said for current Dallas Cowboys edge rusher Everson Griffen, who NFL Media's Ian Rapoport reported Monday has been made available for trade, citing a source.
Griffen, 32, has totaled 77.0 sacks throughout his 11-year career, including 2.5 in this, his first season with the Cowboys. The former Minnesota Vikings standout signed with Dallas in free agency this past offseason, but with their season already in the toilet, the Cowboys apparently are seeing what they can get for him.
And if the 49ers are smart, they'll be the next ones on the line.
The 49ers currently have a grand total of one -- one -- sack this season from defensive ends not named Armstead or Hyder. If they're going to survive the injury-plagued front half of their season and continue to contend for the playoffs and, potentially, the Super Bowl, they simply must generate more quarterback pressure. There's no way around it. And of the theoretically available options, Griffen might be the best fit for San Francisco.
For one, the 49ers would know what they're getting in Griffen: A dependable, proven player with ample big-game experience. It'd also be feasible from a financial perspective, too. As Rapoport reported, any team acquiring Griffen would be on the hook for about half of his $6 million salary.
The 49ers currently have just over $2.4 million in available cap space according to Over The Cap, so they'd likely have to create additional space in order to acquire Griffen. They could generate another $2.1 million in cap space by trading cornerback Ahkello Witherspoon, who has been buried on San Francisco's depth chart but might still be young and cheap enough to be attractive to Dallas.
Witherspoon and a 2020 fourth-round pick for Griffen? If the 49ers are serious about getting back to the Super Bowl, that's a framework they must be comfortable with, especially considering some of the teams they're directly competing with surely will be inquiring, too.