This is my Thursday column.
What would you would do if you ran the 49ers?
The trade deadline is 1 p.m. Tuesday, and your team is in last place in the NFC West. Should you keep fighting? Or should you give up now, prepare for the future and trade a key player like Anquan Boldin for draft picks?
Keep in mind, draft picks may not help you. Your general manger, Trent Baalke, doesn’t seem to know how to use them. The past four drafts, he picked 41 players and came away with only three good ones — running back Carlos Hyde, outside linebacker Aaron Lynch and free safety Eric Reid.
What would be the benefit of giving Baalke more picks? He probably would end up drafting more injured players you’d have to pay to rehab. Players like running back Marcus Lattimore or wide receiver DeAndre Smelter or guard Brandon Thomas.
You don’t need any more professional rehabilitators.
But you may not need Boldin, either. Think about it. He’s gone after this season, anyway. He will be a free agent, and will want to play for a contender — he’s 35. He has no future with the 49ers.
Shouldn’t you give some of his playing time to Jerome Simpson, a 29-year-old receiver you gave a two-year, $1.73-million contract in the offseason? The NFL suspended him for the first six games of the season, but he can play now.
If you trade Boldin and play Simpson plus the younger receivers — Bruce Ellington and Quinton Patton — wouldn’t the Niners be better off the next couple of years? At least the team could evaluate those players’ game-day performances and get a sense if each receiver fits into the future of franchise.
I’ll tell you right now, I would trade Boldin for the best draft pick I could get, and I wouldn’t stop with him. I say keep trading. Trade like you’re Billy Beane. And I’ll tell you something else. I’m applying the Bill Walsh philosophy to the current 49ers. Walsh ruthlessly got rid of players a year or two early. He did not wait for them to be over the hill. He wanted value for them. He refused to pay old players for past performance. Forty-Niners management should study up on Walsh. They heard of him, right?
If Walsh were running the team now, I bet we would do this: Trade Vernon Davis. Trade Alex Boone. Trade Joe Staley. Trade Reggie Bush. Trade Glenn Dorsey. Trade Ahmad Brooks. Trade NaVorro Bowman.
Just get rid of them.
By the time the Niners become good again, those seven players will be old or gone or both.
Davis will be a free agent after this season. Get something for him now. Give his playing time to 2015 fourth-round pick Blake Bell.
Boone will be a free agent after this season. Get something for him now. Give his playing time to 2014 third-round pick Brandon Thomas.
Staley is 31. He will be an elite left tackle only for a couple more seasons. Trade him to a contender. They might just get a second-round or first-round draft pick for him.
Bush is 30, and seems totally uninterested in playing football. Maybe the Niners can squeeze a seventh-round pick out of a team that thinks it can motivate him. Fat chance, but worth a shot.
Dorsey also is 30, and is inhibiting the growth of 2015 first-round pick Arik Armstead and 2013 second-round pick Tank Carradine. Those two should be playing instead of Dorsey. Trade Dorsey now.
Brooks is 31 and scheduled to earn more than $18 million the next two seasons. I’d trade him for a hamburger — no team will give up a draft pick for Brooks. Which means the Niners might have to cut this guy. He’s only standing in the way of 2015 third-round pick Eli Harold. Who knows, Harold could be prime rib?
The Niners might have to cut Bowman as well. He’s only 27, but moves like he’s 37, and is scheduled to earn more than $29 million the next three seasons.
If Baalke can get a draft pick for Bowman, good for him. Everyone admires Bowman, but he has to go.
I’d encourage Baalke to make all of these trades. Let him do the hard work. Then, when it’s time to use the draft picks he accumulated, I’d fire Baalke and hire a real general manager.
Grant Cohn writes sports columns and the “Inside the 49ers” blog for The Press Democrat’s website. You can reach him at email@example.com.