The San Francisco 49ers won twice Tuesday night by consummating a trade for Dee Ford with the Kansas City Chiefs and being outbid in a reported 11th-hour pursuit of Le'Veon Bell by the New York Jets.
Landing Ford, an explosive 28-year-old edge rusher with 26 sacks and 10 forced fumbles in his past 39 games, for a second-round draft pick next year is a coup. Not only do the Niners, who Josina Anderson reports will sign Ford to a five-year, $87.5 million deal, anticipate they'll be drafting a lot later than second overall in each round next year, the usual cost of poaching a franchise tag recipient is two first-rounders.
But because of the Chiefs' cap constraints, they agreed to move Ford for far less, presenting the Niners a golden opportunity to transform their biggest weakness to a potential strength in the span of about six weeks.
Remember, the 49ers registered an NFL all-time low seven takeaways last season. Ford? He had eight forced fumbles in 18 games (including the playoffs). Additionally, the Niners have spent three of their past four first-rounders on interior defensive linemen, and in a draft full of them, the inherent pressure to prioritize EDGE over, say, Quinnen Williams is lessened following this trade.
Do we expect Williams to be the pick at No. 2? No, the Niners likely will have their shot at the best player in the draft, and though many will have Williams first overall on their board, Nick Bosa or Josh Allen would make a fabulous addition to flank Ford.
The deal Kyle Shanahan and John Lynch were unable to pull off, the signing of Le'Veon Bell, could be a blessing in disguise. The Niners have a couple interesting cost-effective options in Matt Breida and Raheem Mostert behind Jerick McKinnon, who tore his ACL last summer on the heels of signing for an insane $18 million guaranteed, so we struggle to see why Bell was even in play. Especially because Shanahan has made it work with cheaper alternatives in his past few stops, from former Day 2 picks Devonta Freeman and Tevin Coleman to sixth-rounder Alfred Morris.
Sometimes the deals teams don't make are the best. For the 49ers, they did one that makes perfect sense and came up short on another that they didn't need to pull off anyway. A big win-win for the 49ers, who found the closer they do desperately needed while keeping their window to draft best available player wide open.