At 2-2, the San Francisco 49ers are in last place in the NFC West.
That same record wouldn’t put the Niners in any other division cellar, but the NFC West is shaping up to be as tough as every NFL expert says it is.
The 49ers take on the undefeated division-leading Arizona Cardinals on Sunday, October 10, where they are 5.5-point underdogs, according to oddsmakers. Last week, San Francisco dropped its first game against a division opponent, losing 28-21 to the Seattle Seahawks.
All signs indicate that the 49ers probably need help if they want to stay afloat in the loaded NFC West. Bleacher Report’s Alex Ballentine listed three players in his trade target column on Wednesday, October 7, that could be available to help San Francisco immediately.
Last week, Ballentine correctly identified that former New England Patriots CB Stephon Gilmore could be traded this season. Ballentine called for the Niners to go after the Pro Bowl player, which head coach Kyle Shanahan later told reporters the team did inquire about Gilmore, according to multiple reports, but it was the Carolina Panthers who ended up landing him.
Looking forward, Ballentine said that a cornerback, edge rusher and wide receiver could come in and help San Francisco right away.
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Analyst Pegs Vikings CB Cameron Dantzler as Viable Target
The 49ers have already inquired about Minnesota Vikings CB Cameron Dantzler, as reported in September by The Athletic’s David Lombardi.
Now that the second-year cornerback with starting experience seems to be buried on the Minnesota depth chart, the time might be perfect for the Niners to revive those talks and pry him away.
Dantzler appeared to be a good fit in Minnesota initially. He showed promise his first year out of Mississippi State by starting 10 games, allowing 45 passes caught on 71 targets, intercepting two balls and knocking down four. But then the Vikings brought in more corner help during the offseason, signing Bashaud Breeland and Patrick Peterson, which has seemingly left Dantzler as the odd man out.
The 23-year-old finally saw some significant playing time again last week against the Cleveland Browns and played well. He logged nearly every defensive snap and allowed only one completion on five targets.
But the outlook in Minnesota hit another snag, as Dantzler was recently placed on the injured reserve/COVID-19 list, as NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport reported on October 4.
The up-and-down playing time situation suggests Minnesota wouldn’t be opposed to letting the young corner go for the right price, as Ballentine suggested.
Free-Agent DE Trent Murphy Could Help Disappointing D-Line
Former Buffalo Bills edge rusher Trent Murphy hasn’t played this season, but the Bay Area could be a good spot for the seven-year veteran to finish his career, considering he played his college ball at Stanford University.
San Francisco ranks 25th in quarterback pressure percentage, Ballentine pointed out, with little production coming from players other than Joey Bosa and Dee Ford.
“The 30-year-old isn’t the most explosive edge defender, but he does bring some versatility to the line up and had seven sacks and 15 quarterback hits over his final two seasons in Buffalo,” Ballentine wrote. “At the very least, Murphy could take a few snaps on run downs to keep the team’s pass-rushers fresh throughout the season.”
Eagles WR J.J. Arcega-Whiteside Could Fill Obvious Void
Productive pass-catchers other than Deebo Samuel and George Kittle have been hard to come this season for the 49ers.
Second-year man Brandon Aiyuk has been nearly non-existent so far, due to injury and other reasons, having caught only six balls for 58 yards.
In fact, Samuel and Kittle account for 47 catches between the two of them. All other 49ers receivers combined have caught 41 balls.
While San Francisco might not be in the market for a big-name talent out there who may be available, such as WRs Michael Thomas and Allen Robinson II, lesser-name producers, like Philadelphia Eagles WR J.J. Arcega-Whiteside, could be a welcomed addition, Ballentine opined.
The 2019 second-round pick has lost out on playing time since the team took two more receivers in the first round since then. He mostly plays as a special teamer.
“The 24-year-old is a big target at 6-foot-2 and 225 pounds with a basketball background. He hasn’t worked out in Philadelphia but it isn’t as though it’s had the most stable franchise in recent years,” Ballentine wrote.
San Francisco could be the perfect landing spot for a young receiver who hasn’t lived up to his potential, but still has plenty of upside to offer.