Minkah Fitzpatrick

Jeff Garcia, Donte Whitner disagree on NFL players requesting trades

Jeff Garcia, Donte Whitner disagree on NFL players requesting trades

The NFL is seeing a change of player empowerment shift before their eyes, in real time, during the regular season. 

Defensive back Minkah Fitzpatrick, who was drafted just last year, already has gone from the tanking Dolphins to the Steelers after requesting a trade after Week 1. Fellow defensive back Jalen Ramsey, a two-time Pro Bowl cornerback at only 24 years old, also has requested to be traded from the Jaguars after being seen in a heated argument with head coach Doug Marrone. 

Ramsey requested the trade prior to Jacksonville's matchup with the Titans on Thursday, but he still played in the game despite making it known he wants the Jaguars to move him. 

Former 49ers turned NBC Sports Bay Area analysts, Jeff Garcia and Donte Whitner, played in a time when you hardly ever saw a trade request come to fruition during the season, and be so publicly known. The two also differ with their feelings on these players requesting trades. 

To Garcia, this a generational issue that isn't going to get any better. 

"I don't like it," Garcia said Sunday on 49ers Pregame Live. "I don't like the direction that the league is going right now with the players requesting [trades]. It's the new age of how kids grow up. We see it at high school levels, where you're not the starter, you're not the star that you thought you were going to be, so I'm going to leave this high school and I'm going to another high school.

"Well, now you see that being carried over into collegiate football with guys changing programs all the time, and they've made it easier to do so. And now at the NFL level, it's like a domino effect. I really don't like it. I think guys need to learn or be forced to battle through certain situations." 

Whitner dealt with a situation during his 11-year NFL career that makes him have much different feelings. 

"I have to disagree with Jeff because I'm all about individualism," Whitner responded. "I'm all about the business side of football, and these teams will cut you and put you on the street without a notice like they did me. The Cleveland Browns did me dirty. What they did was, they cut me so late that other teams already filled their roster up. So who's decision is it to do that so late?

"If you're going to let me go, let me go early so I can get on with another team. Don't wait to the last day to cut me so I can't sign with another team. So it's all about the players taking their onus on their careers, understanding what's best for them, what's best for their career and what team, what system, what defense might be best for them, like the NBA does it.

"The players run the NBA. The NFL players are trying to get to that level where they can have some type of ... more control over their career."

[RELATED: Watch Shanahan's speech after 49ers' win over Steelers]

There are two sides to this argument, and they're not going away. Ramsey likely will get traded soon, and he won't be the last superstar to for a way out of his current situation.

Steelers acquire Minkah Fitzpatrick from Dolphins week of 49ers game

minkahsteelersap.jpg
AP

Steelers acquire Minkah Fitzpatrick from Dolphins week of 49ers game

The 49ers didn't trade for Minkah Fitzpatrick, and now they get to face him. Right away.

The Steelers have acquired Fitzpatrick from the Dolphins for multiple draft picks, including Pittsburgh's 2020 first-round draft pick, the team announced Tuesday morning.

ESPN's Adam Schefter first reported the news Monday night, citing league sources. The defensive back recently demanded a trade out of Miami after the Dolphins were outscored 102-10 over the first two weeks of the season.

The trade comes at an especially inopportune time for San Francisco, as it ends the 49ers' pursuit of Fitzpatrick, if there even was one. But more to the point, now San Francisco will get a first-hand look at the former first-round draft pick in its very next game when the Steelers visit this weekend.

The No. 11 overall pick of the 2018 NFL Draft, Fitzpatrick was taken two picks after San Francisco selected offensive tackle Mike McGlinchey at No. 9. He has the ability to play both cornerback and safety, and that versatility would have been very useful in the 49ers' defensive backfield, had they been willing to pay the price required.

With Fitzpatrick now headed to Pittsburgh, Jacksonville's Jalen Ramsey becomes the most coveted defensive back available on the trade block, after the Jaguars cornerback similarly demanded a trade Monday. Both Richard Sherman and Ahkello Witherspoon have played well over the course of San Francisco's 2-0 start, but like Fitzpatrick, Ramsey would present an upgrade -- and also likely cost a first-round draft pick, at least.

[RELATED: Why 49ers should do whatever it takes to get Jags' Ramsey]

The 49ers previously sent away their own 2020 second-round draft pick in the trade that brought Dee Ford over from Kansas City. San Francisco has placed a high value on draft selections ever since the beginning of the Kyle Shanahan-John Lynch regime, but given the 49ers' fast start and suddenly steep trajectory, perhaps it's time to consider using those draft selections to acquire more established commodities.

San Francisco suddenly has a need for an offensive tackle in the wake of Joe Staley's broken fibula. Whether it's an offensive lineman or an All-Pro defensive back, the 49ers should be thinking long and hard about pursuing some players that would undeniably improve their team, both in the immediate and the long-term future.

In Jalen Ramsey trade, 49ers should be willing to do whatever it takes

In Jalen Ramsey trade, 49ers should be willing to do whatever it takes

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.

[RELATED: Should 49ers trade for Williams after Staley's injury?]

Now, 49ers. Now is the time to act.