Hypothetically Speaking…

Before I begin, I’d like to clarify that these are not rumors or speculation. These are merely hypothetical questions and scenarios I would like to discuss with my fellow San Francisco 49ers fans.

With two first round draft picks this year, the 49ers have more options than normal. They can keep them and draft practically back to back, and hope one or if they’re really lucky, both work out for them. Or, they can have some fun, entertain us fans, and trade one away for a player that wants off of his current team. The following three players are the most intriguing to me.

Joshua Cribbs
I think we can all agree the 49ers’ special teams was far from special this past season. With the release of return specialist Allen Rossum, the 49ers did not have a distinguished returner and tried to make due with what they had. Nate Clements occasionally returned punts, but with his broken arm, coach Mike Singletary turned to his receivers. Brandon Jones and Arnaz Battle shouldered most of the load. Jones was a disaster, and Battle simply appeared the lesser of two evils. They muffed punts and did not give the offense help in the field position game. Neither has the natural ability, or trained as a punt returner. In my opinion, Battle belongs in the slot, going up the middle making catches with his sure hands.

Pros:
It would be asking a lot from the Browns to trade their best player, but when your best player is a punt returner, you need more help than he can provide. A first round pick would be a perfect remedy for that. Also, new executive Mike Holmgren still has a good relationship with the 49ers franchise. A mid-first round pick for a punt returner sounds more than fair to me.

Tight end Vernon Davis went to high school with Cribbs, giving the 49ers a perfect liaison between them and Cribbs.

Cons:
Although Cribbs is the best return man in the NFL, paying him as such would be crippling to a team. There’s only so much money you should put towards a specialty player who can only help in on aspect. Sure, there’s the Wildcat, but it is still a specialty. Using a first rounder on a kick returner is a very steep price to pay. The Miami Dolphins selected Ted Ginn Jr. in the first round, passing over Brady Quinn when they needed a quarterback. Not that it would have been any better as Chad Henne has established himself as a better quarterback than Quinn. However, Ginn has not become the next Devin Hester, and has not even evolved into a reliable receiver. We already know Cribbs can return kicks, but how much should we want our team to invest in a one dimensional player?

Anquan Boldin
The receivers are on the up-swing right now. The two starters will be a combined five years into the league when the season starts in September. After a solid 2009 campaign, Michael Crabtree and Josh Morgan hope to take the next step in their games. This young corps could use a veteran still in his prime to kick up the talent level.

Pros:
What the 49ers would gain is only a fraction of what the Cardinals would lose. If Kurt Warner decides to retire, Steve Breaston, Early Doucet and Jerheme Urban will not be what Boldin is. The Cardinals recent pummeling of the Green Bay Packers will hopefully lull them into a false sense of security, making them think they’ll be fine without their second best receiver. Boldin would bring his physical play and extra motivation against the Cardinals two times a year. Having a new starting receiver would also free-up Josh Morgan so he can become the primary return man. He averaged 28 yards a return while taking back kick-offs. Returning punts is different, but I think Morgan can make the transition.

Boldin is upset with the Cardinals because of his contract. They paid Larry Fitzgerald big money, and promised Boldin another deal, but did not follow through. I’d be willing to give Boldin the contract he wants. Unlike Cribbs, paying an elite wide receiver like an elite wide receiver is manageable to payroll.

Cons:
Even with a first round pick, the Cardinals might be weary about trading within the division. There should be other offers willing to trade a first round pick. They will probably want to trade him to the AFC, or at the very least, a non-NFC West team.

Giving an additional first round pick to a divisional rival is also dangerous. Arizona could draft the next great player with that pick, and San Francisco would have to compete against him for years.

Julius Peppers

Last offseason, Peppers held out of training camp and demanded a trade. He got exactly what he didn’t want. They Carolina Panthers franchise tagged him and did not move him. Peppers will be a free agent this year, but the Panthers could always tag him again, but this time with the intention of getting something in return for him. Is he worth it?

Pros:
The 49ers would be getting the sack master they desperately need. Ahmad Brooks displayed he could become a force with regular playing time. But imagine the front seven with Ahmad Brooks, Justin Smith, and Julius Peppers. The pressure that was lacking in most games last season would be applied immensely, helping out the vulnerable secondary. Peppers finished the season with a broken hand. He was used sparingly in pass obvious situations only. He was still able to register 10.5 sacks. Manny Lawson led the team with 6.5. A sack threat is sorely needed.

The defensive end has stated he wants to try and play outside linebacker in a 3-4 scheme. I still haven’t forgiven Parys Haralson for his missed tackle on Chris Johnson at the goal line against the Tennessee Titans. Linebacker is already a deep position for San Francisco, but adding a player who has the ability to pressure quarterbacks is what the unit does not possess.

Cons:
Giving up a first round pick for an aging player who could be declining is not smart. He will be 30 this year and his best days could be behind him. The Panthers already owe the 49ers a first round pick, is it good management to negate that by taking a player with three/four good years of football left? If they were willing accept a trade of a second or third round pick plus a player, (i.e. Haralson, or Lawson) I’d be all for it. But a first round pick seems to be too much for Peppers.

If he does become an unrestricted free agent, then by all means he should be pursued. However his age is somewhat of a concern. At 30, he does not have the long term value most teams like. He probably won’t be able to get the huge contract he wants, but if he wants to be on a defense that is just a pass rusher away from being dominant, look no further.

Conclusion:

If any of these options were legitimate, I’d want to go with Boldin. Michael Crabtree made strides last season as a rookie and will only get better. Having a tutor like Boldin will help Crabtree along the way, and he can see how physical a receiver can be. He can witness first hand how to be a tough runner after the catch, and for heaven’s sake, tuck the ball away when you’re running with it. Losing that talent would hurt Arizona exponentially. Without Warner and Boldin, we could be looking at the Cardinals of old, when they were the joke of the NFL.

Before anyone says they need to draft a quarterback with one of their first round picks, let me remind you we want the 49ers to win now. There’s no time to groom a quarterback of the future in the middle of a division race. Yes, there are exceptions to the rule that rookie quarterbacks need time to develop, but it is not guaranteed. They were a few plays away from having not only a winning record, but the division. If Alex Smith is able to build on his most successful season, and the 49ers get help from Cribbs, Boldin, or Peppers, I believe they win those games they didn’t, and they don’t have to waste a high draft pick on a position that is notorious for being high risk/high reward. The offensive line should be the number one priority regardless if a big trade happens.

What do you think? Agree or disagree? Did I fail to mention another disgruntled player begging for a trade? Discuss.

I have been a 49ers fan my entire life and will continue to be one long after I'm dead. My plan for the afterlife is to haunt the Dallas Cowboys and ensure they will never win another Super Bowl. My favorite 49er of all time is Steve Young, and my favorite current 49er would probably be Alex Smith. (I take a lot of sh** for that, even from Niner fans.).
  • Ken_Mangera08

    Great choices. We'll see what happens. Go niners!

  • Cory

    My 3 would be Brandon Marshall, Josh Cribbs, and Shawn Merriman

  • West

    I’d rather have Brandon Marshall

  • http://www.49ersnews.com John

    No disrespect to Ahmad Brooks, but you cant go into the season with Ahmad as your best pass rusher. Ware, Dumerveil, and Harrison are REAL proven pass rushers. Lawson and Haralson are 5-7 sack guys. I guess you can put them in the average/backup category as far as legitimate pass rushing OLBs.

  • http://www.49ersnews.com John

    The niners dont need Boldin nor will they acquire him. Peppers is intriguing for the right price in picks/players given up and contract. Same goes for Cribbs. I hope we can somehow acquire Elvis Dumerveil if he becomes available. I believe his contract is up this off-season. He is 25, Peppers is 30, and is an already 34 OLB, unlike Peppers. Bottom Line, we need a dynamic pass rusher and a S and/or a CB to be a dominant defense!

  • http://49ersnews.com Kevin Sarlandt

    I think Marshall would be a good option to go after as well, altho I don’t know what kind of mentor he’d be (if at all)

    • JD

      kevin, maybe being put into a role like that could help him out.

  • http://Twitter.com/follow_fabe Fabian

    Before I read this article I wad screaming we need a return man. I agree with everything else u said. Also Brandon Marshall is in a contract year

  • SHITHEAD

    THe cowboys lost the cowboys lost, ya boyyyyyyeyyyyyyyyyy!!! I just wanted to comment and say that the cowboys defeat on sunday made my offseason, I am so thrilled those turds jerry jones and his hee-haw crew lost, it is fabulous! It was especially fun to hear aikman and his co – host who commentated the game get completly dimoralized during the game, it is advious who that squad roots for and his co host always sucks up to Aikman to get brownie points over the years, it is pathetic. The guys on fox bradshaw and johnson kept making accuses and saying that the cowbillies would be back next year, if that was the 49ers they would say it was game over for us! I am tired of the cowboy loving media, what is their obsession with this hick franchise, had the whole country turned into a trailer park. I hope the 49ers het their act together and add some class to the NFL, I am tired of those cowpattie bastards!

  • Jarrod

    Brandon Marshall would be a great pick up talent wise, but I wouldn't want to worry about his character issues. We all saw his infamous "punts" in practice, and coach Singletary only wants team guys. He could straighten him out, but Bolidin has proven he'll give 100% even during a contract dispute.

  • chuckle49er

    i agree about the free agents and im very happy about the cowboys loss

  • http://49ersnews.com Kevin Sarlandt

    There is no way that AZI will even consider dealing boldwin to the only other team in the NFC west keeping them honest, I'm sorry I'd like it but it's not gonna happen

  • SHITHEAD

    WE NEED Terrell OWENS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  • Jarrod

    I agree the Cards wouldn’t likely trade, but it would be nice to have him. Marshall would be more easily acquired but once again, the coaching staff has to be sure they’re willing to take on another diva type wide receiver. The 49ers are usually good at staying out of the media in regards to domestic disputes and such.

  • http://49ersnews.com Kevin Sarlandt

    Although I’ve never been a fan of his charicter there’s no arguement that Marshall is a beast, I have a feeling if a team gives him the money he wants he’ll shut up, problem I c with that is the yorks are notoriously cheap when it comes to high profile players, plus WR could get better for the 49ers it’s not nessicarly a gapping need, although I believe Morgan needs to be replaced, fix the GODDAMED o line so smith can stand for more then 3 seconds before he has to break the play and run for his life

    • West

      If we have a shot at Brandon Marshall we have to jump on it. We need more playmakers on Offense. Crabtree an Marshall, V.D.. Gore “Scary” Denvers knows he wants out and i would think they would want something in return while they can still get it. We have 2, 1st. Maybe Denver take picks next year,dont know. Marshall and OT Bryan Bulaga, Iowa …or OT Bruce Campbell, Maryland or OT Trent Williams, Oklahoma or OT Anthony Davis, Rutgers.. One of them will be there.

      • West

        In free agency we can sign Nick Collins Packers, "long shot" or O.J. Atogwe Rams Safties to replace Mike Lewis. It will also give us an option not to bring back Roman and keep Lewis playing close to the line in run support. Thats what the 9ers have been doing with Lewis, adds another option.

  • Joe Gomez

    BRING BACK TO

  • West

    O Line Coach Foerster left to Redskins..

    Know we can go after Mike Solari coached O Line under under George Seifert or Tom Cable once the Raiders give him his walking papers.

  • http://Website Darlo49ers

    An offiensive of line with Boldin, Crabtree, Davis, Gore, A Smith who will be able to stop that offense!!!!! Our defense is in need of a elite cornerback but with the way the defensive line and linebacker core is we can proubly work on that later and get a very elite return man. I see our niners going all the way next season. Get Boldin Please, Alex Smith will break records for sure!!!!

  • http://Website Darlo49ers

    I sure wish that we had the cowgirls on our schedule this season! they should move to the NFC West so that we could beat their buts twice a season! Can we agree to 14-2 next season!!! we finally have an offense and defense along with Good coaching. There is no room for any new fans please I don't care if their favorite player is someone they are following and he land on our team (R. Bush) get your popcorn ready T. O (Butterfingers) T.O and Shaq our sports laughing stocks!!