Not Sherman: Another All-Pro CB Named 49ers ‘Trade Target’

San Francisco 49ers trade rumors

Getty The San Francisco 49ers are 2-0 but might need more talent help if they want to win a loaded NFC West.

The San Francisco 49ers are 2-0 heading into their Week 3 home opener on Sunday, September 26. While that’s a promising start, the NFC West appears to be so loaded this season that 10 wins might only be good for a third-place in the division.

That means the 49ers may want to bring in more talent if the team seriously wants to compete for the NFC West crown.

Bleacher Report’s Alex Ballentine highlighted three players on Wednesday, September 22, including one former All-Pro, the 49ers should try to bring in to bolster an already beaten-up roster two weeks into the 2021 campaign.

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With reigning MVP Aaron Rodgers and the Green Bay Packers in town in Week 3 and the division-rival Seattle Seahawks to follow in Week 4, rarely has a 2-0 team’s future looked so daunting.

“So, the 49ers find themselves off to a great start, but there is an arms race brewing in which a midseason trade could make all the difference,” Ballentine wrote. “San Francisco still has some weaknesses on the roster that could be strengthened by adding another body via trade.”

The list includes two cornerbacks — one of whom is a household NFL name — and a talented wide receiver buried by depth. Those position groups are where San Francisco is clearly vulnerable, and if the team is in win-now mode after the hot start, the additional talent would seem almost a requirement.

Analyst Pegs Patriots’ Stephon Gilmore as Viable Target

Stephon Gilmore

GettyIt would be hard to land any Pro Bowler, but the Patriots have a history of letting star players go for the right price.

It’s not easy prying away a Pro Bowler and former All-Pro from another team midseason, and Ballentine admits as much. But he also lays out plenty of reasons the situation might work, too.

Trade rumors have circled CB Stephon Gilmore for over a year now in New England, an organization where it’s not uncommon for a star to be shipped out before their productive days are done.

The sides haven’t worked out terms on a long-term contract extension, and Gilmore, 31, began the season on the Physically Unable to Perform list (PUP), which will keep him out of action until at least Week 7.

The major hurdles to any deal would be financials and cap space, Ballentine reported. The Patriots owe Gilmore $7.5 million this season and any extension would put him well north of that.

San Francisco, meanwhile, has only $4.8 million in cap space and will likely have just under $14 million next year, according to Over the Cap.

On top of that, the Niners have a dearth of draft picks compared to other teams, having traded away two future first-round picks and a third-round selection to move up and select QB-in-waiting Trey Lance No. 3 overall back in May.

But there’s no doubting Gilmore’s potential impact for the team should he actually join. The 49ers are in the beginning rounds of a likely dogfight for the playoffs in a division stacked with next-level wideout and quarterback talent.

Gilmore, a Pro Football Focus Top-10 cornerback by passer rating in 2018, was the Defensive Player of the Year in 2019, as Ballentine pointed out, and held opposing passers to a rating of 75.7 when they threw his way in 2020.

Browns CB Greedy Williams Could Offer Immediate Help

Greedy Williams

GettyGreedy Williams lost his starting spot in Cleveland, which could be good news for San Francisco.

Cleveland Browns CB Greedy Williams could offer San Francisco help right away. And Cleveland probably wouldn’t miss him much.

Williams, a second-round pick in 2019 who started 12 games in his rookie season, didn’t play last year due to a shoulder injury. He’s back now but lost his starting job to rookie Greg Newsome II. Still only 23 years old, Williams only played eight snaps in Week 2 and all of them were special teams.

When Williams did play, he performed moderately well. He allowed a passer rating of 84.9 when targeted. To put that number in perspective, Gilmore finished with a passer rating against of 71.4 when he was a Pro Football Focus top-10 corner in 2018.

So, Williams shows real value now. San Francisco is already thin at corner. The team lost corner Jason Verrett for the rest of the season with a torn ACL in Week 1. They signed journeyman Josh Norman, but might need to do more to cover the losses. If the Browns would be willing to part with Williams, the Niners could start doing that right away.

Garoppolo Needs Better Options

James Washington

GettyJames Washington, 13, has seen his playing time dwindle in Pittsburgh.

The 49ers need a No. 2 wide receiver to begin catching some passes.

Whether or not that proves to be WR Brandon Aiyuk, thus far it hasn’t been. Aiyuk has been slowed by an injured hamstring, nevertheless, head coach Kyle Shanahan hasn’t seemed impressed with the second-year wide receiver so far. Aiyuk has only one reception on two targets for six yards.

Deebo Samuel has been Jimmy Garoppolo’s favorite target, having had 20 balls thrown his way in the early going. Wideout Trent Sherfield, Aiyuk’s backup for all intents and purposes, has three receptions on six targets.

The Pittsburgh Steelers‘ James Washington would make sense as an addition.

The change of scene could be good for Washington, too. He is stuck behind JuJu Smith-Schuster, Diontae Johnson and Chase Claypool on the wideout depth chart. Trade rumors about his unhappy situation swirled in Pittsburgh in the offseason, although the organization never confirmed the validity of those reports.

Already, Washington’s production has been there, which is a boon for any team with a win-now mentality bringing in a player from outside.

The 25-year-old Washington brought in 44 catches for 735 yards in his second season in 2020, averaging 15.8 yards per reception.

“That would lead the Niners right now by eight yards,” Balentine wrote.

Given his situation in Pittsburgh, prying him away from the Steelers wouldn’t seem an impossible task for the Niners.

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