A Former 49ers Starter Draws Surprise Trade Interest: Report

Jeff Wilson, San Francisco 49ers

Getty Jeff Wilson of the San Francisco 49ers.

The San Francisco 49ers have the best running back unit in the NFL, at least according to running back Jeff Wilson. With Christian McCaffrey acquired from the Carolina Panthers in a blockbuster move that involved four premium draft picks, Tyrion Davis-Price selected with the 93rd overall pick in the 2022 NFL draft, and Elijah Mitchell expected to return from injured reserve following the Bye week, the Niners have a bevy of options in their offensive backfield, but could one of them be on the move? According to Jeremy Fowler of ESPN, the answer to that question could surprise you.

“The 49ers have received calls on RB Jeff Wilson and are willing to listen to potential offers, per sources,” tweeted Fowler. “Wilson is playing well – ranking 11th in rushing with 454 yards – but the arrival of Christian McCaffrey and Elijah Mitchell’s close return has crowded the backfield.”

After beginning the season as a second-stringer behind Mitchell, Wilson has taken up the lead rusher mantle with authority, rushing for 454 yards on 88 attempts through the first seven weeks of the season while adding 70 more yards on eight receptions as a receiver coming out of the backfield. While it’s expected that Wilson’s opportunities will go down as both McCaffrey becomes more acclimated to Kyle Shanahan’s offense and Mitchell returns to the field, if some team comes looking for a big, bruising back, selling while the North Texas’ product’s value is at an all-time high could prove to be a sound decision, especially with his contract set to expire at the end of the season.

Over The Cap Provides Insight Into Jeff Wilson’s Future

As things presently stand, Wilson has a cap number of $1,085,000, with a base salary of $1,035,000 and a workout bonus of $50,000, with $530,000 of that guaranteed, according to Over The Cap. Considering Wilson accounts for roughly .51 percent of the Niners’ total cap and his contract ranks 71st out of 176 qualifying running backs, San Francisco is getting pretty darn good value from their impromptu lead back, as he once again ranks 11th in rushing yards league-wide.

In 2023, however, it’s hard to imagine Wilson will be willing to play on another sub-$2 million deal, but how much could he demand on his next deal? Well, according to Over the Cap, Wilson is playing with an OTC contract valuation of $5.156 million; a number that his agents will likely bring up when they come to the negotiation table. Assuming Wilson demands a contract in the range of, say, the two-year, $10 million contract John Lynch gave to Telvin Coleman in 2020, it’s hard to imagine the 49ers bringing the soon-to-be-27-year-old rusher back for a sixth-straight season in gold and red.

The San Francisco 49ers Could Have A Blueprint For A Wilson Trade

If the 49ers decide to recoup some of the assets they surrendered for McCaffrey by trading away his Week 7 rushing partner, they won’t have to look far to find a blueprint for a potential deal, as their former defensive coordinator, Robert Salah, just acquired a similar back after the New York Jets lost their top rusher, Breece Hall, to a season-ending knee injury.

To add James Robinson to his roster, Jets general manager Joe Douglas surrendered a 2023 conditional sixth-round pick that, according to ESPN’s Rich Cimini, can become a fifth-rounder if the Illinois State product is able to reach the 600-yard mark, which he is 260 yards away from.

On paper, Wilson is having a better season than Robinson, as he’s rushed for 114 more yards on just even more rushing attempts, but considering the latter is two years younger, and the duo are both in the final year of their respective contracts, a conditional sixth-round pick that becomes a fifth if a certain criteria is met is probably the best deal Lynch could hope for if he opts to make a subtractive deal.

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