The San Francisco 49ers have said that they will make other changes in the offseason of 2023. They still need to cover a few gaps, so this makes sense. They can fill these needs via the draft, but they may also want to think about the trade market. Here we’ll look at one perfect NFL trade the San Francisco 49ers must complete in the 2023 offseason to improve their depth moving forward.
The 49ers may have played in Super Bowl LVII if not for a slew of quarterback and other injuries. Kyle Shanahan’s team showed a lot of toughness in the face of adversity thanks to one of the best-constructed rosters in football. Still, GM John Lynch and his staff aren’t resting on their laurels. They know that the team needs to reload this offseason to sustain their success moving forward.
To that point, the Niners have actually made quite a few moves this offseason. They signed QB Sam Darnold as their likely No. 3 play-caller. The squad also re-signed center Jake Brendel. Their biggest move, however, was strengthening their defensive line by acquiring Javon Hargrave from the Philadelphia Eagles.
That said, the 49ers can still work on shoring up both of their lines while also acquiring draft assets to prepare for the future. As such, Lynch and head coach Kyle Shanahan can possibly consider putting a trade package together.
Let’s look at the perfect trade the San Francisco 49ers must complete in the 2023 offseason.
Arik Armstead for picks
Defensive lineman Arik Armstead tops the list of players that the 49ers could potentially trade. Recall that in 2020, Armstead was given a contract extension, leading to the trading of DeForest Buckner. That’s because the team couldn’t afford both players. Sure, some believe that Armstead’s stats don’t justify his place in the team. Still, his value to the defense is significant and cannot be measured by the numbers alone. However, his 2023 cap hit is nearly $24 million. That’s a considerable increase from the $9.6 million the previous year.
Arik Armstead, back at 49ers practice and looking in line to give the front a boost against Miami pic.twitter.com/KltnVPlbOQ
— David Lombardi (@LombardiHimself) November 30, 2022
Trading Armstead after June 1st would free up $16.4 million in cap space while incurring $7.6 million in dead money. These savings could prove to be significant if the team decided that cheaper options were available.
Maybe packaging Armstead for some picks would make sense? It would be a good salary dump for the 49ers while also giving them some leverage for future roster builds.
Alternatively, if the Niners wanted to really hold on to Armstead, other possible trade candidates include TE George Kittle and maybe one of their other QBs — Trey Lance or Brock Purdy.
Of course, any trade involving Kittle would be unlikely. That’s especially given his impressive performance last season with 760 receiving yards, 60 catches, and 11 touchdowns. Remember that those are all career highs. However, don’t forget that Kittle will also turn 30 this upcoming season. That might indicate that we’ll see him already past his prime. Additionally, his contract will become more expensive in the coming years. He will receive $18 million in 2023, $19.8 million in 2024, and $17.5 million in 2025. That could be problematic if the 49ers want to focus on keeping other players such as Deebo Samuel and especially Christian McCaffrey. Therefore, it might be advisable to sell Kittle at a high value now rather than face these complicated dilemmas later.
Alternatively, Shanahan and Lynch could go the trade-a-QB route. Take note that Trey Lance and Brock Purdy are currently recovering from injuries sustained during the previous season. Lance, who broke his ankle in Week 2, is expected to return sooner than Purdy. Remember that the latter tore his UCL during the playoffs and is unlikely to be ready until training camp. Despite this, Purdy’s improvement during the latter half of the season gives him an edge over Lance in terms of long-term starting potential for the team.
As both quarterbacks are still on their rookie contracts, finances are not a major concern just yet. Trading either one for a win-now asset would make sense for both the Niners and another team. However, Lance has only started four games at the NFL level. This could make other squads hesitant to invest in him. Nevertheless, some teams might take a chance on his potential. This is especially if the 49ers were fully convinced that Purdy was the right quarterback for their team. In such a scenario, the 49ers could take a loss on their initial investment in the Minnesota native. However, at least they could potentially receive compensation for him in a deal.
As for Door C, if the 49ers were to trade Brock Purdy, it might seem absurd given his impressive performance in his rookie campaign. However, considering the investment made in drafting Lance and his potential as the long-term solution at quarterback, trading Purdy could also be a smart move financially. Additionally, Lance’s current good health gives him an edge in offseason workouts.
Purdy still holds value as an asset for the 49ers despite his current injury. When he returns to full health and assuming Lance is playing well, other teams are likely to inquire about Purdy’s availability. Even if Purdy isn’t ready to start by the beginning of the regular season, he could serve as a valuable midseason trade asset.
Trading Armstead currently seems like the most viable option. However, it also doesn’t make long-term sense to keep both Lance and Purdy. As such, the Niners might as well get something for either one right now.