49ers eventually will swap three first-round picks, and more, for one player

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At a time when potential trade packages have been discussed for franchise quarterbacks with three first-round picks as the starting point, it’s important to realize that the 49ers will indeed be making that kind of transaction, one month from Monday.

The 49ers have packaged three-first round picks — the 12th overall in 2021, and first-rounders in 2022 and 2023 — plus a 2022 third-round pick to move up to No. 3. To move up to select one player.

A potato/potahto debate always emerges when trades like this happen. Some will insist that the 49ers have invested only two first-round picks in the player they will draft. The truth is that it’s three.

It’s three because every first-round pick used on a player amounts to a first-round pick traded for that player. That’s what using a first-round pick is. It’s an exchange of that selection for the player obtained with it.

Teams can exchange their first-round picks for a rookie, or they can exchange their first-round picks for a player already in the league — like the Steelers did early in the 2019 season, when they exchanged their 2020 first-round pick for Minkah Fitzpatrick.

Thus, every first-round pick that ever gets used by a team constitutes a trade of a first-round pick for that player. Given the number of first-round picks that routinely fail, it’s odd that teams place so much significance in first-round picks. But a first-round pick before it’s used has unlimited possibilities; it can be the key to a Hall of Fame player who becomes the cornerstone to the franchise.

That’s the bizarre dichotomy that gets ignored in the months preceding every draft, when every prospect gets hyped and no one ever points out that half of the first-round picks that eventually will be made eventually will fail. Before the lottery ticket gets scratched, it can be a jackpot. Once the metallic paint is rubbed off with the edge of a quarter, everyone begins to find out what the player can be.

Sometimes he’s good, sometimes he’s not. In this specific case, the 49ers believe that whoever they get in exchange for the third overall pick in the draft — a pick they secured by exchanging three first-round picks and a third-round pick — will be a lottery ticket that, once scratched, will say something other than better luck next time.

32 responses to “49ers eventually will swap three first-round picks, and more, for one player

  1. Is it just me, or are “franchise quarterbacks ridiculously over-valued? If Nick Foles, Joe Flacco, Trent Dilfer, Doug Williams, and Jim McMahon can win a Super Bowl, maybe winning a championship is really about–and I know this sounds crazy–just having a really good team with a particularly innovative play style that the rest of the league has not caught up to yet. Trading four players for one player who has never played a down in the NFL may not be conducing to building a really good team.

  2. I have not heard anyone suggest that the 49ers may have been ready to ship those 3 first rounders to the Houston Texans for Deshawn Watson.

    I mean, two weeks ago that deal could have happened.

    Once the allegations starting pouring in, maybe they had to change their strategy.

    While everyone is wondering who they will pick, I believe they made the trade BEFORE the pro day of Justin Fields… knowing it’s gonna be a really good one.

  3. The Watson trade speculation holds no water at all since this trade was consummated well after all the filings against Watson had in.

    If that is what they are planning… then the 49ers are even dumber than the current dumb trade implies.

  4. This reminds me of the time Sonny Weaver traded all those number one picks away to draft Bo Callahan…

  5. They did give up only 2 first round picks because they got a first round pick in return for this draft. If they had traded for a player instead, then they would have indeed traded away 3 first round picks. What they gave up is quite similar to what LA gave up for drafting Jared Goff. Jared Goff was not able to lead the LAmbs into the playoffs in his rookie season and no rookie quarterback has ever won the Super Bowl as a rookie (although Johnny Football told people that he would be the first to do so), therefore the odds that Frisco would get rid of Jimmy G. and hand the starting job to a rookie is next to zero if Frisco is hoping to go to the Super Bowl in 2021. Giving up on Jimmy G. now is to give up hope. People who have been doing rain dances since 2017 to wish that Frisco would get rid of Jimmy G. would have to wait and do more rain dances.

  6. 49ers Watson speculation holds A LOT of water.

    First, it was one of the few “destinations” Watson would accept a trade.
    Secondly, the cost would have probably been the same as this trade to #3.

    In other words, the 49ers had that as an option on the table if / when the Texans would accept it.

    But when Watson was accused by 20 different massage therapists, the 49ers changed direction. It IS a possibility and the fun part is we’ll never know 🙂

  7. But a first-round pick before it’s used has unlimited possibilities; it can be the key to a Hall of Fame player who becomes the cornerstone to the franchise.
    So can a 6th round pick…let’s say around pick 199.

  8. I for one, believe Belichick has it right in drafting….trade down and give yourself more chances at getting good players, not trading many chances for one chance. Yes, Belichick has not chosen well at WR with those picks for example…..but the rest of the team is well above average.

    Not only that, but if the reports are true, they are banking on the runt? The guy that two other teams would have passed on?

    Yes there’s a chance he’s great….even better than the first two….but how often does that happen? You are betting three years that you hit lightning in a bottle? Just screams desperation.

    I still don’t believe the Jets are taking a QB though. I think they are staying put for an offensive lineman or maybe a top Receiver. Maybe that is what the Niners know.

    I don’t see anyone outside of Lawrence a surefire better Qb than what the Jets have….they need protection and weapons….as do the Bengals and others which may be why they are staying put.

    It would be null for the Jets to move down just to spend draft capital to move back up over the Bengals….almost impossible. They are forced to stay put.

  9. With the 1st 3 picks and possibly the 4th going QB the Fins have a very valuable pick to trade. If Justin and Mac are still on the board at 6 and you like only one of those two your chance (say Denver) to get him before the Panthers do is there. Same could be said for Carolina. If you fearful the Broncos might jump ahead in trade you might offer for 6. If none of this happens before draft day it certainly could make for a wild draft day.

  10. All those picks for the right to draft the third QB? Out of the five likely first round QBs maybe one or two will be good?

    I would rather spend the same three first rounders for Watson who is a sure thing. Even with all his troubles. Few game suspension and then you get a star the next ten years

  11. The argument that they are giving up two first round picks is that three go out and one comes back for a net of -2 in the deal. They are still investing three first round picks in the ultimate pick/player. It’s all semantics. The amount of draft capital being spent is three first round picks either way.

  12. How many 2021-first-round picks did they have before the trade? How many 2021-first-round picks do they have after the trade? They gave up 2 first rounders and a little of something else.

    You only say you gave up 3 first rounders if the player they select at 3 overall fails miserably.

  13. Any team that gives away their future by trading off three first-round picks, really is just buying an early pull on the handle of the slot machine that is the NFL draft.

    Endless busts among high first round picks. There’s no guarantee all that value traded away will come up with anything but disappointment — think Mitch Trubisky for a recent example.

  14. The real question will be where the 2022 and 2023 1st rounders SF gave up end up in the draft order. If they do draft a QB and start them They are probably not going to have a very good next two years and the Fins will have come away with three high draft picks. Maybe SF though trades again with the Saleh Jets to move up for Wilson. Even with him though rookie QB’s usually do not shine and again the Fins come away with some great picks for the trade.

  15. As long as we can all agree the Jimmy Garappolo will be the 49ers’ starter this season.

  16. The Forty Niners are now set for the next 3 years.

    Their team is now as good, or better than it was when they went to the Super Bowl in 2020. They will draft a QB to sit behind Garoppolo and learn. If Garoppolo gets injured, again, they will have a great backup…and possibly the future franchise QB…….on a rookie contract.

    THe Niners knew that it is likely that they will not have a chance to draftthis high in the first round, for years. They will likely win at least 9 or 10 games every season, meaning draft a QB now, or hope to get afree-agent AB, later.

  17. If I give you 1st rounder and you give me 1st rounder did I really lose a 1st? The niners gave up 2 firsts and a third for the rights to the 3rd pick

  18. So I guess the Niners, and every other team have always traded away all their picks every draft every year. That’s just dumb, its two first rounders,

    Also, as most of us are pointing out, first round picks are a gamble, so this is a smart move.

  19. I don’t fully understand what the Niners are doing. From a distance, they seem very good when Jimmy G is healthy but have done a poor job ensuring they had a quality backup that could win playoff games. When you have a mature team with a Super Bowl window as open as theirs, to give up 3 first round picks for a developmental QB is odd. And any QB they get at 3 will be a developmental guy. So maybe they aren’t going up for a QB. Maybe they feel their offense will be unstoppable with two great TE’s, and they want Kyle Pitts, to get them over the top and exploit their SB window. That’s a heavy price but maybe they feel he is a generational talent worthy of that. I don’t know. But to give up 3 firsts for a kid whose only played a season of D2 competition, or a guy like Mac Jones they may have gotten at 12 anyway, or even Justin Fields, is confusing to me. Not when your team is this close to going over the top.

  20. If you trade 3 firsts for a free agent QB, then you gave up 2 firsts. But if you give up three firsts, but get one in return, you only gave up 2.

  21. You could have the best player in the draft BUT if the organization cannot develop that player, put him in the right position to succeed who cares. If the 49ers can take whoever they pick at 3 and can put a great team around him, then he can be very successful, like Trent Dilfer. There is so much more that goes into success over that pick for that guy. Some guys are incredibly good, generationally good, that have won only one SB…

  22. Doesn’t matter any way. Those 2 first rounders will both be 27th overall or worse. If, magically, Zach Wilson falls to them, we’re talking dynasty here.

  23. QBs are overrated, tell me where was Brady’s team last year and this year? He was not going to super bowl with three picks defeating packers if he was with Patriots. Heck, he was not even defeating saints with last year Patriots

  24. neutral28 says:

    I still don’t believe the Jets are taking a QB though. I think they are staying put for an offensive lineman or maybe a top Receiver. Maybe that is what the Niners know.
    There’s no way the Jets DON’T take a QB if they stay put. If they weren’t going to then they would be insane not to trade down and still get a top OL or WR and a bounty of picks.

  25. Only way this move is not NUTS.. is a swap for Watson. Otherwise… completely moronic.

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