49ers Suggested to Trade 2nd-Year Draft Pick Before NFL Deadline

San Francisco 49ers, Ambry Thomas

Getty Ambry Thomas of the San Francisco 49ers.

Though the 2022 NFL trade deadline is closing in on November 1, the San Francisco 49ers already made their big move by shipping away four draft picks to acquire Christian McCaffrey from the Carolina Panthers. With barely 48 hours to get acclimated to the different timezone, let alone learn an entire playbook, McCaffrey played a sizeable role for the Niners in Week 7, picking up 62 total yards from scrimmage while splitting snaps with incumbent starter Jeff Wilson in an ultimately losing effort at the hands of the Kansas City Chiefs.

Sitting at 3-4, the 49ers are still very much in the hunt for a surprisingly wide-open NFC West, but just because the playoffs are still the plan doesn’t mean John Lynch couldn’t also be looking to make a trade, specifically to recoup some of the assets he surrendered to bring McCaffrey to town. This thought process led price Kyle Madson of USA Today’s Niners Wire to suggest a potential trade centered around 2021 third-round pick Ambry Thomas.

Frankly, the 49ers injury problems will likely keep them from being sellers at the deadline. However, Thomas has yet to crack the cornerback rotation even as injuries pile up at the position for San Francisco. The right offer from a team that liked Thomas before the draft might be enough for the 49ers to part ways with a player they selected in the third round out of Michigan just a year ago. Thomas’ inability to find the field in 2022 is a little surprising considering how his rookie campaign went. He struggled to carve out a role in 2021, but he was forced into action by injuries and got noticeably better each week he was on the field. That improvement didn’t continue into 2022 and he was surpassed by everyone on the depth chart. With Jason Verrett potentially returning from the PUP list, Thomas is a young, developing CB could be expendable for the right price.

Is there a tanking team who would be willing to surrender a Day 3 pick for Thomas? Maybe so, but it’s far less clear whether or not the Niners would actually want to move on from the second-year pro.

John Lynch Spoke Highly of Ambry Thomas in the Past

After opting out of the 2020 NCAA season due to COVID-19, Thomas’ rookie season was always going to take some time to get back up to speed, but after making an appearance in Week 14, Lynch complemented the Michigan product, as transcribed by 49ers WebZone.

“Ambry’s a really gifted player,” Lynch said. “He can run, and he can play the football when he’s in the air. And he’s got poise when he does that, so those are two really good qualities. There’s other things that will come with experience, and you’d like to be able to get that experience when the stakes aren’t so high, but that’s not the position that we’re in.”

From that point, Thomas started every game he appeared in throughout the remainder of the 2021 NFL season, including the NFC Championship Game, but fell down the depth chart in 2022, beginning the year behind Charvarius Ward and Emmanuel Moseley on the outside, with Jason Verrett expected to land higher in the pecking order when he eventually returned from PUP too.

The 49ers Need More Depth at Cornerback, Not Less

With Mosley on IR and Verrett still on the PUP List, the 49ers have just four cornerbacks on their active roster in Ward, Thomas, Deommodore Lenoir, and Samuel Womack III.

While they have three more corners on their practice squad, including long-time contributor Dontae Johnson, there has been a small but loud segment of the Niners’ fanbase who would love to see Lynch add another corner to his roster, not less, with Alex Ballentine of Bleacher Report explicitly pointed out Sidney Jones as a trade target.

“Trades within the division can always be tricky,” Ballentine wrote. “Teams don’t want to give an advantage to someone they are directly competing with, but a deal for Sidney Jones IV makes a lot of sense for both the 49ers and the Seattle Seahawks.”

Unless a team like the Seattle Seahawks is willing to exchange Thomas for Jones in a move that would strengthen a division rival, it’s hard to imagine a scenario where the Niners’ 2021 third-round pick won’t be sticking around into November.

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