DeSean can fill need for speed

This is my Wednesday  column.

Yes, of course the 49ers should trade for Eagles’ wide receiver DeSean Jackson. Not even a discussion.

On Tuesday, CSN Philly reported that the Eagles are shopping Jackson for a third-round pick, and that the 49ers are interested.

Let me list the reasons the 49ers should make this trade:

1. The 49ers have two third-round picks, two second-round picks and a first-round pick. The 49ers can trade the Eagles one third-rounder, and still have four of the top-94 picks. The Niners can use those picks to trade up for the best cornerback possible.

2. Jackson has just $250,000 guaranteed left on his current contract. If the 49ers trade for him, he will want to renegotiate his deal. And that works in the 49ers’ favor. They have less than $4 million in cap space this year. The 49ers can afford Jackson only if he renegotiates. The 49ers could give him what he wants – more guaranteed money – but stretch the guaranteed money over the course of the entire contract. That way, he would fit into the 49ers’ salary-cap structure.

3. Jackson would give the 49ers’ offense what it lacks most – speed. The Niners’ fastest offensive players are its quarterback and tight end. No speed on the outside. Jackson’s mere presence on the field would make every other 49er’s job easier. The opposing defense would have to commit a safety to making sure Jackson doesn’t break free deep, which would give Frank Gore more room to run between the tackles, and Anquan Boldin and Michael Crabtree more room to get open underneath.

4. There is no receiver more explosive than Jackson in this year’s draft. Jackson was one of the top-three most explosive receivers in the NFL last year. Only Jackson, Calvin Johnson and Josh Gordon caught more than 65 passes and averaged more than 16 yards per catch. Sammy Watkins is the one receiver in the draft who has a chance to become as dangerous as Jackson already is, but Watkins will be a top-five pick. Out of the 49ers’ reach.

5. 49ers’ general manager Trent Baalke has an abysmal record drafting wide receivers, and 49ers’ wide receivers coach John Morton has an equally abysmal record developing them. Think A.J. Jenkins and Kyle Williams. Rather than trust Baalke and Morton to find and develop a wide-receiver gem in the second round or third round, the 49ers should play it smart and trade for Jackson, a proven player.

5. Jackson would give the 49ers a punt-returning threat, something the Niners lost when Ted Ginn left in free agency last year. The Niners’ current punt returner, LaMichael James, specializes in the fair catch.

6. Jackson would give the 49ers a long-term replacement for Michael Crabtree, who will be a free agent after next season. Crabtree could become one of the top-10-highest-paid wide receivers, but he’s not worth that much money. He has missed 17 games during his 5-year NFL career. Not dependable. Not fast, either. He’s a possession receiver, and possession receivers are a dime a dozen – the 49ers already have Boldin, another possession receiver. Explosive receivers like Jackson are rare. Jackson deserves to be one of the top-ten highest paid receivers, not Crabtree.

7. Jackson would make the 49ers clear-cut Super Bowl favorites next season. Jackson, Boldin, Crabtree and Vernon Davis by far would be the best receiver-quartet in the NFL.

8. Jackson would uncover the truth about Jim Harbaugh and Colin Kaepernick. Can they or can’t they win the Super Bowl? If they can’t win it next season with Jackson and the best roster in the NFL, then the Niners know Harbaugh and Kaepernick are not worth mega-million-dollar contract extensions, and the Niners can start searching for a new quarterback and a new head coach.

End the mystery. Make the trade.

Grant Cohn writes sports columns and the “Inside the 49ers” blog for the Press Democrat’s website. You can reach him at

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