No. 13 overall: Trade it or keep it?

If someone like Jerry Jeudy is available at No. 13, would the 49ers really trade down?
(Photo: Associated Press)

John Lynch was very open this week about his willingness to trade one or both of the 49ers’ first-round picks.

Well, “open” might not be the right word. “Vocal” is more like it, because we have no idea what Lynch’s true motivation was. He may have been earnest and pure when he said, “There are scenarios where we’re going to be open at both of those picks to moving back. It’s out there for everyone to see.” He may have been announcing that the 49ers are open for business, and gently preparing the fan base for not getting a new toy in the middle of the first round.

Or it may all be BS. Because when you think about it, you don’t have to tell your NFL trade partners you’re open for business. Every team is manning its phone lines, for just about every pick.

So, should the 49ers trade out of the No. 13 spot, or the No. 31 later in the first round, or both? It’s impossible to answer that, because we don’t know the specific offers Lynch will get. During his first draft in 2017, there was no way to predict the Bears would be dumb enough to throw four picks at the 49ers just to move up one spot, from No. 3 to No. 2. It was literally an offer Lynch couldn’t refuse.

Without knowing the real deals, we can speak only in generalities. And the most general is this: Bad teams are advised to trade down. Good teams should be trading up.

Bad teams – and you know what they look like, because there was one in Santa Clara as recently as two years ago – need help on many fronts. The 49ers’ roster was terrible when Lynch and Kyle Shanahan arrived. One or two stud players weren’t going to turn it around. They needed starters and depth at virtually each position group. Every team wants to find quality in the draft. For bad teams, quantity is important, too.

The 49ers aren’t a bad team anymore. They took a lead into the fourth quarter of the Super Bowl. They were agonizingly close to winning an NFL championship, and it’s reasonable to argue that one or two additional puzzle pieces, if they were the right ones, could have delivered that title. Or may deliver it this season.

The Niners no longer need a massive influx of warm bodies. They need a couple game-changers. The draft isn’t the only way to find them, but it’s a way. All things being equal, Lynch should hang onto the No. 13, and probably No. 31, too.

I know it would be brutal to go three rounds (2 through 4) without making a selection, as the 49ers are currently slated to do. That’s a lot of inactivity during the busiest time of year for NFL front offices. But so be it. Unloading a first-round pick for a couple of second- and third-rounders, just to be represented on Day 2, doesn’t make sense for this team.

Anyway, if the 49ers really are desperate to get into those middle rounds, they might be able to accomplish it by trading a veteran player – a Tevin Coleman or a Matt Breida.

Simply put, if Jerry Jeudy or Tristan Wirfs or CeeDee Lamb is available at 13, and Lynch and Shanahan believe he’s the type of player to get them over the hump – if he’s a “foundational player,” in Lynch’s words – well, that’s how championships are made.

Here’s another way to think of it. The 49ers got that No. 13 pick by trading DeForest Buckner, who was without doubt one of their three best players. It was a logical trade, but his absence will hurt the team in 2020. If the Shanahan system is clicking again this year and the 49ers wind up back in the Super Bowl, pitched in a dogfight with Kansas City or Baltimore, who will be the difference-maker, the guy who makes up for not having Buckner on the field?

It’s a lot easier to envision that person arriving via the No. 13 pick rather than the No. 75.

This article has 70 Comments

  1. Personally, I believe the- ‘6 foundational players’ are most likely all 4 of the top OL, with Derrick Brown and Javon Kinlaw.
    The ‘5th round WR talent’ is just a smokescreen

  2. Trade it. Right now I’m contemplating trading 13 to NE (who wants to move up for a QB, possibly Herbert) for 23, 98, and 139. With the 23 I would pick Justin Jefferson, WR, LSU, who “some” consider the top receiver in the draft. He is the perfect guy to replace Sanders, a speed burner who can stretch the field. I have other trade backs also that will give the Niners a total of 8 picks. A work in progress. Thoughts on Jefferson?

      1. Yea, You are probably right Phil looking at numerous peoples mocks. It would be a gamble as far as Justin but I still think it’s a good trade with other good options at 23, along with 98 and 139 if they got that deal done.

    1. Juanhunglo

      Maybe I’m just being tooooooo greedy, but I want to hold onto both 13 and 31….and work some trades for some of our ‘expendables’ …(IE Solomon Thomas, and RB Tevin Coleman, and bundle with some later draft picks. NO, I am not mocking Seb, but I think that we can get some draft traffic for some of our ‘replaceables’ (OLINEMEN) and then use 13 and 31 on first rounders…hey..?

      Let the laffing begin….

  3. That’s pretty much how I was feeling, hang on to them unless you get a Bear like deal to move back one or two spots.

  4. Assuming these are the “6 foundational players” Lynch would weigh against moving down from #13:


    Tells me Lynch does not have the top wr’s rated equally. Probability of a trade down is high for that reason.

    He also mentioned the roster is stacked and 7 draft picks is about right. That tells me he could be planning on using one of his 5ths, a 6th and both 7th rounders to move back up into round 4.

    The Patriots are the model for how to trade down to sustain viability. Let’s see if Lynch has been paying attention….

    1. I think Wirfs and Thomas will be two of the guys they consider foundation players. Not convinced Jeudy or Simmons would be. Not sure if they would include a QB or not, but if so, Burrow would be one as well.

  5. Wait until you see if someone you want is available at #13. If you can’t improve the team with one of the players left for you to choose from, only then should you say yes to any offers from teams wanting the #13 pick.

    1. Absolutely agree. You have to wait and have your best deals in your back pocket if you don’t have any of the player(s) you covet at 13. A lot will transpire before then.

  6. “ The Niners no longer need a massive influx of warm bodies. They need a couple game-changers. The draft isn’t the only way to find them, but it’s a way. All things being equal, Lynch should hang onto the No. 13, and probably No. 31, too“

    Pretty much exactly what I’ve been saying. Well said Phil!

    1. 7 picks in rounds 1-5 would be the sweet spot and look something like this after trading down from #13, and trading back up using lower picks:

      1st round-#20/#31
      3rd round-Mid to high
      4th round-Mid to high
      4th round-Mid to high
      5th round-High
      5th round-Low

        1. We’ll still have #31. We should be able to acquire a 3, 4 and a 5 to move down to 20. Use that 5 plus 6 and two 7’s to get another 4.

      1. That’s it. I agree the 49ers don’t need more than the 7 picks they currently have. But it would be good to replace some of those round 5 to 7 picks with round 2 to 4 picks. And the only ways to do that is to trade back from round 1 (easiest way to get some round 2 to 4 picks), trade players (more likely to get you extra round 5 to 7 picks), trade up from rounds 5 to 7 (which won’t move you up far) or trade future picks (which should be a last resort and only if there is a player you simply feel you have to have).

    1. You think Lynch has all three wr’s rated as foundational? I do not. One out of 6 probably but not all three.

      1. No, but I do think Ruggs, Lamb, or Jeudy would give Garoppolo another weapon. From what I am gathered from the NFL Network however, there is looking to be a strong likelihood that the top four OTs, top two CBs, and top three WRs will be off the board before the 13th pick.

  7. I’m going to tell you guys again. If Henry Ruggs is there they will not trade down. He is Kyles dream pick at 13. He fits incredibly well. The issue is that he won’t be there. So they trade down. Ruggs is one of there top 6 foundation type of player. Lamb or Juedy is not. That’s how I see it and have seen it this way for months. Can’t wait until tommorow.

    1. If Ruggs is better than Jeudy then why did Jeudy have 62 more receptions for 1000 more yards than Ruggs in college? For me, college production counts. And Jeudy did it playing in 4 fewer games than Ruggs. I honestly don’t know who is a better NFL WR but Jeudy had much better production in college.

      1. Juedy had 26 TDs at Alabama. Ruggs had 25…. Here is the difference, Ruggs had 60 less catches and 80 less targets…. Ruggs has the second best percentage in touches that turned into TDs after Barry Sanders in the history of college football. Juedy will be a very productive Wr. Ruggs terrifies defenses just being on a football field. Now imagine putting him in Kyles system. If Niners get Ruggs they will win the SB. That’s how confident I am. He makes the offense unstoppable.

  8. Here’s my totally uneducated guess that I state with absolute confidence, bravado, and machismo. Shanalynch pride themselves on finding “Their Guys” which often is contrary to public opinion and often contrary to other teams evaluations. The need on the team right now is WR, O-line, CB, and D line – in that order. Denzel Mims is the WR the 49ers want. Cesar Ruiz is the o-lineman the 49ers want. They can get both lower than pick 13. Unless Wirfs, Brown, or Okudah fall to the 49ers (which ain’t going to happen) then the 49ers trade pick 13 even if Lamb, Jeudy, and Ruggs are all still available. They will trade with the Patriots for pick 23 and some later round pick. 49ers draft Ruiz at 23 and Mims at 31.

    1. I like both picks, but I think the Niners are going to have to flip the choices (Mims at 23, Ruiz at 31) to get them both.

  9. I understand the argument for not needing lots of players and so using the two first rounders makes some sense. But I think there are a number of areas that can be improved, even just from a depth perspective, and you do want to make sure you are still setting yourself up for future success too.

    The only reason for not trading back imo is if players fall to both 13 and 31 the team simply feels are too good to pass on. Otherwise they should look to move back from at least one of those spots.

  10. I’ve said it before, move 13 for something close to 20, get a 2nd. At 31, trade back into the first 10 of the 2nd with a 3rd. This gives you a 1st in the top 20, a 2nd at the top of the round, a 2nd in the back half of that round, and a 3rd at the top of that round.

    Then you have your 5 other picks in the 5th, 6th, 7th.

    They can find game changing WRs in this draft, there are easily 10+ guys who can have great careers.

    They need Oline depth/future RT. They need another guy on the dline as they already lost Buck and Day and have guys coming back from injury you can’t count on. They need DB help, both CB and Safety, and they have a market for another receiving TE (think Gronk/Hernandez level or Vernon/Walker).

    You can get those with trades that take you from 7 picks (2 in first round, 5 in last 3) to 10 picks (5 in first 3 rounds and 5 in last 3). And if you don’t see a need for those last 5 picks, bundle some for picks next year.

    I pose this question, how many times did the Pats trade out of the first round the last 15 years?

    1. The Patriots aren’t a valid comparison to anyone. They got lucky drafting Tom Brady and they have Bill Belichick. When you have Brady, it makes draft strategy so much easier.

      1. And the 49ers have a legit QB in Jimmy. First full season of starting and they are in the SB with the lead in the 4th.

        The pats stayed atop so long because of those drafting moves, you want to emulate them. You have a good or better qb, keep putting talent around him.

  11. An off the grid mid round pick might be OLB. Azeez Al-Shaair was less than spectacular last year in limited duty. There are rumors that the niners think Greenlaw can replace Kwon. If that is the case they had better start grooming another LB .

  12. Let’s try and check in to verify everyone is here in 20 minutes. If someone doesn’t show up, we will divvy their picks to everyone else participating.

    GEEP: Picks 1 (Bengals), 7 (Panthers), 13 (NINERS!), 19 (Raiders), 25 (Vikings), and 32 (Chiefs; I swapped 32 and 31 for you so you didn’t get to do both Niner picks).
    RAZOREATER: Picks 2 (Redskins), 8 (Cardinals), 14 (Bucs), 20 (Jaguars), 26 (Dolphins), and 31 (NINERS!)
    SEB: Picks 3 (Lions), 9 (Jaguars), 15 (Broncos), 21 (Eagles), and 27 (Seachickens)
    POT…KETTLE: Picks 4 (Giants), 10 (Browns), 16 (Falcons), 22 (Vikings), and 28 (Ravens)
    REBELSCUM: Picks 5 (Dolphins), 11 (Jets), 17 (Cowgirls), 23 (Patriots), and 29 (Titans)
    DAVE: Picks 6 (Chargers), 12 (Raiders), 18 (Dolphins), 24 (Saints), and 30 (Packers)

    When it is your turn to pick, just post your pick and any explanation you want to provide about the pick or what you would do if you could trade. Just make sure: (1) the person in front of you has made their selection; and (2) you don’t pick someone already taken earlier. This should be fun…

      1. I think we can only mentioned what we would have done, or think the team should do about trades. Too hard to try and negotiate trades just through this blog among the people picking.

        I know that is a damper on you Seb…HAHAHA

  13. I hope it unfolds like most predict. I do see the Lions wanting to trade back, but the Dolphins and Chargers will be patient, save their pick, and still get either Tua or Herbert.
    Some mocks have the Jags picking Jeudy, but if Baalke is running the draft, he most likely will pick a DL like he did with Armstead and Buckner.
    I could see him picking Kinlaw, just to spite the Niners, but CB may be the best option, because of what Grant said about the top 2 CBs. CJ Henderson would replace Ramsey, so it fills a big need.

    1. It was being reported on NFL Network that the Dolphins are wanting to trade up to take an OT.
      I agree that the Jaguars will most likely take a defensive player with their first pick.
      Henderson is expected to go in the top 10, and the 49ers should not touch Kinlaw unless he falls down to the 31st pick due to his medical red flags.

  14. All depends Grant. “Good teams should be trading up.” Yeah, remember that brilliant Saints trade up back in ’99?

    It all depends….

      1. I concur.

        And the articles are not snippy or condescending at all….almost as if written by a professional (which they are)?

  15. GEEP: Go ahead and fire when ready. I would post what pick # and which team you are picking for each time you post.

  16. Use the pick = more fun!

    Hey Phil, It’s cool to see you back in school.

    I appreciate this forum having an open login; robust conversation; and professional sports journalists citing their opinions and moderating with a light hand. Thank you for taking it on.

    BTW, I noticed a couple others pointing out long ago moderators, including Matt Maioco.
    Remember when Mark Ibanez was reporting on Bear Cub football for the Oakleaf? It’s wayback week.

  17. When making a pick, do it as a new comment entry, instead of some long string. We’ll leave the string replies to those wanting to comment on the pick.

  18. Thank you Pot Kettle for being the commish, I am not seeing picks, I am the worst for technology so I hope I am not holding us up!

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