August 18, 2022
The San Francisco 49ers get a 1st-round pick from an AFC team in this trade proposal.

The San Francisco 49ers don’t want to trade Deebo Samuel, but that could change if the offer for the All-Pro wide receiver was sweet enough. What a sweet-enough offer looks like probably involves at least a first-round pick.

Trade bait on that level would be difficult for the Niners to turn down for a player who will be a free agent in 2023. One NFL writer has outlined a proposal involving a leading contender from the AFC dealing a top pick to the Niners for Samuel, even before final roster cuts this offseason.

Head coach Kyle Shanahan and general manager John Lynch are still talking like Samuel will be a 49er for the long haul. Yet, their minds might change if they’re given the means to replace the gifted playmaker a few months from now.

AFC Team Gives First-Round Reward for Samuel

In a list of potential blockbuster trades, Bleacher Report’s Maurice Moton has the Indianapolis Colts sending the Niners a 2023 first-round pick to acquire Samuel. Moton believes Lynch might “have to explore other options” if “Samuel isn’t satisfied with the 49ers’ offer or plan for him.”

The Colts are considered strong candidates to pounce because they should “bolster their aerial attack in case Jonathan Taylor isn’t as effective on the ground compared to the previous season when he rushed for a league-leading 1,811 yards.”

Putting Samuel alongside rushing champion Jonathan Taylor and useful wideout Michael Pittman Jr. would be a dream scenario for the Colts. Yet, offloading Samuel now would make little sense for the 49ers.

It would mean severing ties with one of the most productive playmakers in the NFL. Somebody who gashes defenses both through the air and on the ground, per Pro Football Focus:

The 49ers don’t have another player as dominant in both phases of the offense as Samuel. His versatility and production are worth more than a first-round pick, despite the ongoing and unwelcome uncertainty about his future.

Samuel’s Status Still Far From Certain

Things have been in doubt regarding Samuel’s place on the roster ever since he asked to be traded back in April. The request was motivated by “frustration” about “his usage,” according to NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport.

Any frustration concerns how often Samuel plays running back. It was a major part of what San Francisco did offensively last season, and Shanahan recently said he and Samuel are “on the same page” about how the All-Pro will be used this year, per NBC Sports Bay Area’s Matt Maiocco.

Shanahan doesn’t sound ready to back off using Samuel in a backfield role, but the player reporting for the start of training camp on Tuesday, July 26, indicated a happy medium could be found.

That’s no longer as clear, with Samuel at camp but so far not working out, according to Cam Inman of the San Jose Mercury:

Again, it’s telling how optimistic Shanahan sounds about the whole situation, but the longer Samuel goes without practicing, the more rumors of a so-called “hold-in” will grow.

Shanahan’s schemes make stars out of unheralded players, the way they did for running back Elijah Mitchell in 2021. Samuel is different, though. He’s not a star because of the scheme, rather the scheme is more effective whenever Samuel is on the field.

The 49ers don’t have another impact receiver on a par with Samuel, so trading him now makes little sense. A first-round pick would increase optimism for 2023, but the Niners are contenders this year as long as Samuel is on the field.

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