Tuesday's NFL trade deadline is fast approaching, and 49ers quarterback C.J. Beathard soon will know his fate one way or the other.
Beathard fell to third on the 49ers' depth chart this preseason after losing the backup QB competition to Nick Mullens, and San Francisco has kept three signal-callers on its roster since then. Coach Kyle Shanahan said in August that the plan all along was to have three QBs, and a source told NBC Sports Bay Area's Matt Maiocco on Sunday that the 49ers have received less-than-satisfactory offers in the "sixth-round range" for Beathard.
So, could a player-for-player swap entice the 49ers to part with the 2017 third-round draft pick?
ESPN's Adam Schefter spoke with "Kap & Co." on WMVP-AM in Chicago on Monday, and was asked if the 3-4 Bears could be a landing spot for Beathard, considering 2017 first-round pick Mitchell Trubisky's struggles. Schefter, who later noted he was "just spit-balling" and "sure that's probably not a trade that could happen," wondered if the Bears would trade wide receiver Taylor Gabriel for Beathard.
"[49ers coach] Kyle Shanahan knows how to use Taylor Gabriel as well as anybody," Schefter said. "They're winning, and Taylor Gabriel would be dangerous in that offense."
Two of Gabriel's three most prolific seasons came with Shanahan as his offensive coordinator. Gabriel caught 36 passes for 621 yards in 2014 as a rookie with the Cleveland Browns, and he later grabbed 35 balls for 579 yards and a career-high six touchdowns with the Super Bowl-bound Atlanta Falcons in 2016. He caught a career-high 67 passes for 688 yards last season, but Gabriel has just 14 receptions for 169 yards through five games with the Bears this season.
The 49ers upgraded their receiving corps last week when they traded for Emmanuel Sanders, but there's still some uncertainty on their depth chart. Injured receivers Jalen Hurd and Trent Taylor might not come back at all this season. and no wideout other than Sanders had more than three targets in Sunday's win over the Carolina Panthers.
Gabriel's contract isn't guaranteed beyond this season, so the 49ers still would have flexibility this offseason -- just as acquiring pending free agent Sanders did.
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Schefter couched his speculation enough to throw ice-cold water on even the thought of a Gabriel-Beathard swap. However, it's also worth noting that Shanahan and the 49ers are very high on Beathard, who was the first QB selected by Shanahan and general manager John Lynch. Plus, the 49ers' complement of pass-catching running backs alongside Sanders gives quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo a good number of options in the passing game, even if the receiving corps lacks experience. The 49ers also used second-round picks on Dante Pettis and Deebo Samuel in each of the last two years, and would like to see them continue to develop.
The 49ers are 7-0 ahead of the trade deadline, so they don't have too many pressing roster questions to answer. Their third-string QB's status is just about as close as it gets, and it remains to be seen if a team will match the 49ers' asking price.