In case you didn’t already know, the 49ers reminded you on Tuesday that they are all-in on winning the Super Bowl this season.
Ahead of Tuesday’s NFL trade deadline, the Niners traded for former Pro Bowl defensive end Chase Young from the Washington Commanders in a deal that shocked even the deepest NFL insiders.
The Niners will send a paltry third-round pick to Washington for half a season of Young.
It’s the kind of splash move that could right the Niners’ currently wayward ship.
It’s the kind of trade that could put the rest of the NFL on notice once again.
It’s the kind of move that a coach and general managers with nothing to lose and everything to gain would do.
So that’s why Kyle Shanahan and John Lynch pulled the trigger on Tuesday.
Let’s be clear about the big-picture scenario at hand: The 49ers need to win a Super Bowl in the next three seasons.
That’s how long Brock Purdy’s dirt-cheap contract runs. That’s the window for the 49ers to put absurd talent around the quarterback in an effort to build the NFL’s best team.
When Purdy’s rookie deal expires, the Niners would need to pay Purdy like a franchise quarterback — meaning more than $30 million a season — or go looking for another quarterback to helm the offense.
In short, we know when the party is going to end.
But for the next three years, money is flowing for the 49ers like it’s the aughts all over again in Silicon Valley.
Purdy will make $3.1 million in total over the next three seasons. Bengals quarterback Joe Burrow makes that amount for one game. (Though after his Week 8 win over the Niners, it’s hard to say he doesn’t deserve it.)
Purdy is the cheapest starting quarterback in the NFL, playing for roughly 3 percent of what he would be worth on the open market.
If Shanahan and Lynch do not take advantage of this all-time windfall by winning a title, they deserve to be fired. They know it, too. And they’re acting on that timeline.
Yes, it’s now or never for San Francisco. So why should Shanahan, Lynch, or fans care about draft picks or the salary cap? Why wouldn’t they all be all-in?
With that in mind, this is still a blockbuster deal for San Francisco.
When I wrote Monday that I didn’t expect the 49ers to make a splash before the trade deadline, that was under the understanding that Washington wouldn’t give up Young for a third-round pick. Did Washington general manager Martin Mayhew even bother to shop Young to other teams, or did he give his former bosses in Santa Clara a sweetheart deal?
This is the second time that Shanahan has fleeced Washington — an organization he hated from his time there as his father’s offensive coordinator — for a Pro Bowl-level talent. In 2020, the 49ers landed left tackle Trent Williams for third- and fifth-round picks for one of the most lopsided deals in recent NFL history.
Now, Young is likely to be a rental. He’s a free agent at the end of the season. But for the 49ers, he’s a no-risk, all-reward play. Young has 14 career sacks in 34 games. He’s been plagued by injury the last few seasons, but he has the talent to be one of the NFL’s best quarterback killers. All he’ll cost the Niners is a forgettable draft pick and $1 million in salary.
You’re telling me there wasn’t another team in the league interested in that arrangement?
Did the Commanders make this move with the singular intent of sticking it to the rival Eagles? (If so, I respect it.)
I have difficulty believing Kansas City, Buffalo, and Baltimore couldn’t beat this price.
Alas, their missed opportunity is the 49ers’, well, opportunity.
Perhaps with Young bookending Nick Bosa on the defensive line, the Niners’ defense can look like itself again. It’ll undoubtedly allow Bosa to take snaps off. Health permitting, the Niners will have the meanest defensive end rotation in the league for the remainder of the season.
Maybe we’ll see this defense’s early-season, last-season form if the Niners can start pressuring the quarterback. After all, this defense is predicated on the defensive line — all of this team’s problems might go away if the Niners start winning with four-man rushes again.
Now, is it a good look that the 49ers felt the need to trade for Chase when they already have the highest-paid defensive end in the NFL, a second-round pick from 2022, and the recently acquired Randy Gregory?
But the truth is that you can never have too many pass rushers. And with Bosa sitting 64th on the NFL sack leaders list, behind such household names as Mike Danna, Casey Toohill, Drue Tranquill, and DJ Wonnum (are those real players, or did I make them up?), the 49ers found themselves deficient up front. It might have been the root cause of this team’s defensive slippage over the last few weeks.
And instead of hoping and praying things improve going into the second half of this season — one of three in the Niners’ Super Bowl window — Shanahan and Lynch did something about the problem.
You can’t ask for anything more from your team’s leadership.