Patrick Mahomes

Why hypothetical Jamal Adams-49ers trade would take team to next level

Why hypothetical Jamal Adams-49ers trade would take team to next level

Editor's Note: This week, NBC Sports Bay Area will theorize hypothetical front-office acquisitions for each of our teams. Today, we examine a potential move the 49ers could make.

The 49ers made the wrong choice with the No. 3 overall pick in the 2017 NFL Draft, but the player they should have chosen instead of Solomon Thomas is not Kansas City Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes or the Houston Texans' DeShaun Watson.

It's New York Jets safety Jamal Adams.

If there's one NFL player who could take San Francisco's already-dominant defense to the next level, it's him. It would be tremendously difficult -- and costly -- to rectify that draft mistake, but as good as Adams is, it's absolutely worth trying.

The trade 

49ers receive: Jamal Adams

Jets receive: Jaquiski Tartt, Dante Pettis, 2021 second-round draft pick, future pick(s)

[49ERS INSIDER PODCAST: Listen to the latest episode]

Let me first begin by saying that Tartt is a good-to-great strong safety in his own right, and the 49ers are a different team when he's not on the field. Tartt missed the final four games of the 2019 regular season, over which the 49ers allowed an average of 31.75 points against per game. In the first 12 games of the season -- for which Tartt was active -- they averaged 15.25 points against.

He is a homegrown player who has improved each year and is a critical member of San Francisco's back seven. But, he also is somewhat injury-prone, and most importantly, is entering the final year of his contract, for which he carries a $6.275 million cap hit.

If Tartt performs in 2020 as the 49ers hope and expect, he surely will command a hefty salary on the open market, quite possibly north of $10 million per season. And, if he regresses considerably, San Francisco will either have to stick with him or find his replacement.

But in this scenario, I've already done that.

Adams, 24, is more than three years younger than Tartt and already is a superior player. He has been selected for the two most recent Pro Bowls, and last season, was named a First-Team All-Pro and ranked the 37th-best player in the NFL Top 100. Pro Football Focus graded him as the fifth-best safety in all of football, who excelled both as a blitzer (second-best) and in coverage (seventh-best). His 6.5 sacks led all defensive backs, despite missing the first two games of his career.

So, why on earth would the Jets entertain offers for him? Well, they already did -- at last season's trade deadline. That didn't sit well with Adams at the time, and from the sounds of it, the situation hasn't improved all that much. Adams had made it clear he wanted a contract extension this offseason, but the Jets, so far, only have picked up his fifth-year option. He skipped New York's voluntary offseason program in protest, and the relationship between player and organization certainly appears to be somewhat rocky.

Adams reportedly wants to be the highest-paid safety in the NFL. If the Jets ultimately don't want to pay that -- or if the situation becomes untenable -- then the 49ers would be wise to tempt them with anything reasonable to get a deal done. San Francisco has its own salary constraints to worry about, but given the current contending window, you get the star player and then let cap guru Paraag Marathe do what he does best.

To pry Adams away from New York, however, it's going to cost a pretty penny. This offer, though, might be the kind of package they'd ultimately accept.

In Tartt, they get a plug-and-play replacement for Adams who would allow them to employ the same kind of defense while spending less. He is a quality player who is still in his prime.

Pettis has yet to establish himself with the 49ers, but let's not forget he was a second-round pick two years ago. The Jets are going to go as far as quarterback Sam Darnold will take them, and while they've added a couple receivers this offseason, he can never have enough weapons at his disposal.

Regardless of which players San Francisco would offer in return, it's highly unlikely the Jets would accept a package without ample draft compensation. The 49ers wouldn't offer the same kind of package the Los Angeles Rams ultimately gave up to acquire Jalen Ramsey after getting a front-row seat to the disastrous effects it has had on their roster, but a second-round pick -- or two -- is an entirely different matter.

The money works in both ways in the immediate, and while the 49ers likely would have to do some belt-tightening in relatively short order, it absolutely would be worth it for them. Adams is the ideal player to not only help the 49ers capitalize on their current contending window, but also extend it, too.

[RELATED: Saints, Cowboys among top threats to 49ers in loaded NFC]

As for the Jets, well, it might not be worth it for them, but no matter how they end up losing Adams -- if that's what happens -- they're never going to get fair value. The longer they wait, the less contractual control they have over him, and consequently, the offers will get worse and worse.

Adams probably isn't going anywhere for a while, if at all. But if the 49ers have an opportunity to acquire him, they should do anything within reason -- and maybe a little outside of it -- in order to do so.

That's the price to pay to rectify the mistake.

49ers' Jimmie Ward explains error on Chiefs' Super Bowl third-and-15

49ers' Jimmie Ward explains error on Chiefs' Super Bowl third-and-15

Jimmie Ward needed some time before he could turn on the tape of the 49ers' collapse in Super Bowl LIV. He finally got around to it a few weeks ago, and has now watched it more times than he can count.

So, what's his main takeaway?

"How things played out, it was just tough," Ward said Thursday on KNBR's "Murph & Mac Show." "I just feel like we could have been better on offense and defense, and you've just still got to give the (Kansas City) Chiefs credit. They were the better team on that Sunday."

The Chiefs ultimately ended up on top, but the 49ers were in control for a larger portion of the game. Leading by 10 points in the fourth quarter, the tide began to turn on a critical third-and-15 conversion by Kansas City. The Chiefs never looked back from there.

[49ERS INSIDER PODCAST: Listen to the latest episode]

Ward wishes he could have that third down back.

"I wish I could have stayed more square," he explained. "I would say that. How I practiced it, how we -- it's a certain play. It's a route that they love doing. ... They ended up getting us in the right call because we were in Cover 3 during that play. I don't know if they were expecting us to be in Cover 3 or what, but yeah, we probably could have made another call. That probably would have helped us out, but at the same time, it probably could have played out the same way."

"I have no idea how that would happen," Ward continued, "but regarding the situation, if I had stayed square, it wouldn't have even been a play."

Ironically, Ward wasn't the only player on the field having trouble staying square on that play. Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes was able to buy plenty of time to deliver that 44-yard completion to Tyreek Hill, but only because Kansas City left tackle Eric Fischer wrapped both arms around Nick Bosa's bellybutton after the Defensive Rookie of the Year had beaten him on the play and was closing in for a sack.

Officials make the obvious call, and there's no completion to speak of, either.

[RELATED: Way-too-early 2020 NFL predictions: Will 49ers finish job?]

Ward was right.

It's still too soon.

49ers' Nick Bosa, Javon Kinlaw have makings of deadly D-line pairing

49ers' Nick Bosa, Javon Kinlaw have makings of deadly D-line pairing

49ers first-round draft pick Javon Kinlaw is quite the impressive specimen. His elite physical attributes jump off the tape and should allow him to make an immediate impact from Day One.

As impressive as he is as an individual defender, though, he should only benefit from joining the holdover members of San Francisco's dominant defensive line. Namely, edge rusher Nick Bosa.

"No one in this whole league plays harder than Nick Bosa," NFL Network's Brian Baldinger told The Athletic's David Lombardi. "I just thought Nick Bosa changed the whole culture. Everyone played harder. You talk to Joe Staley, who had to go against him every day in practice, he'll tell you.

"Somebody that has (Bosa's) level of technique and tenacity, I thought it was contagious. I don't think it was any secret why Arik Armstead had his best season by far."

In being named the NFL Defensive Rookie of the Year, Bosa had an overwhelmingly positive impact on the 49ers' D-line. Armstead notched a career-high 10 sacks, and defensive tackle DeForest Buckner was named a Second Team All-Pro. Buckner, in particular, was effective in combination with Bosa, but he has since been traded to the Indianapolis Colts.

[49ERS INSIDER PODCAST: Listen to the latest episode]

Kinlaw, whom the 49ers selected with the first-round pick they received in exchange for Buckner, will now be asked to fill that void. Baldinger believes he is more than capable of doing so, and expects him and Bosa to form another deadly combination. 

"One thing that DeForest did, they were really good at running stunts and games on that side," Baldinger explained. "DeForest was excellent at penetrating -- you remember the Super Bowl when Nick Bosa got the ball out of (Patrick) Mahomes' hands and just didn't recover it. I think (Bosa and Kinlaw) can really run great stunts together, whether it's an end-tackle twist or tackle-end twist, a combination of them will be really, really good.

"I could even see Kinlaw lining up at end and see Bosa inside, and see Kinlaw just crush the offensive tackle and just let Bosa loop around him. That's been a twist that a lot of teams have done over the past years when you have a big defensive tackle that can run like a defensive end."

[RELATED: After being DROY, 49ers' Bosa is aiming higher in 2020]

49ers defensive line coach Kris Kocurek was absolutely obsessed with Kinlaw throughout the pre-draft process.

Gee, I wonder why?