The 49ers have three options in light of Deebo Samuel’s public trade request.
1. Do not trade him.
2. Offer him top-of-the-market money.
3. Deal him for draft picks, other players, and/or anything else that makes this a win/win.
Whichever route the 49ers take will have an immediate impact on a championship window that could be closing – or, possibly, expanding with the expected transition to quarterback Trey Lance.
Samuel was their 2021 catalyst, in only his third NFL season. Now he is inflaming offseason chaos, a role previously held by Jimmy Garoppolo with last month’s shoulder surgery scuttling a potential trade.
Quite the caper is unfolding.
If Samuel’s desire to skip town is truly not about money and instead about how his versatility is used, here is the harsh reality: whatever team he goes to will also want to maximize his talents and use him in every way possible, to get what they paid for, both in regard to a new contract and to what the 49ers got in return.
My hunch is it’s something else. When have you ever heard a wide receiver say: “Do NOT give me the damn ball,” and when have you ever heard Samuel whine about being a go-to option?
He arrived three years ago in Santa Clara with Hall of Fame potential, as professed by fellow South Carolina star Marcus Lattimore. Samuel is a bona fide star.
Still, never underestimate the NFL’s business side. Samuel sure seemed happy last season, whether it was “putting the ball in the box” for touchdowns or regularly chatting up coach Kyle Shanahan on the practice field and in his office.
So what comes next? The aforementioned options, in reverse order:
1. MAKE A BLOCKBUSTER TRADE
This 49ers regime can be cold-blooded and certainly daring with their history of trades. More on those in a bit. For now, who could be the target buyer?
The New York Jets immediately come to mind. Coach Robert Saleh and offensive coordinator Mike LaFleur were 49ers assistants in Samuel’s first two seasons. The Jets have a surplus of draft capital, and they should offer a combination of picks; they own Nos. 4, 10, 35 and 38.
Forget about the 49ers sending Samuel to the Green Bay Packers. They’re NFC rivals. Sure, Green Bay needs him for Aaron Rodgers. The 49ers wanted Rodgers a year ago, the Packers said no, and so it goes.
It’s not so much that the 49ers shouldn’t entertain NFC offers, and, heck, they traded their last All-Pro wide receiver (Terrell Owens in 2004) to the Philadelphia Eagles, by way of Baltimore. That could happen again.
There are enough teams in the now-supercharged AFC that could use Samuel, especially the Chiefs, who have two picks in each of the first two rounds (Nos. 29, 30, 50 and 62). Had they not already splurged on Tyreek Hill, the Miami Dolphins would be ideal to reunite him with coach Mike…
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