The 49ers go into Thursday night’s Round 1 of the NFL draft with several giant question marks hanging over their heads.
One, of course, is what general manager Trent Baalke will do with the No. 7 overall pick. Will he trade down to get more picks? Will he stand pat and take the best player available? And, if he does, will he go for defense (the most popular scenario among NFL analysts) or offense?
The other question is, will Baalke take part in what may turn out to be a draft-day game of NFL musical chairs?
Though Colin Kaepernick remains on San Francisco’s roster, it’s been reported that the Denver Broncos still have interest in him, for the right price. Baalke has 12 selections in this draft, but could pick up more if he can deal Kaepernick to the Broncos.
The other scenario has Baalke perhaps sending some of those picks to Philadelphia for current Eagles quarterback Sam Bradford.
Bradford, who was Chip Kelly’s quarterback in 2015, signed a two-year deal with Philadelphia this offseason, but now wants out because the Eagles have traded with Cleveland to get the No. 2 overall pick Thursday night. All indications are the Eagles would then take one of the two top quarterbacks available, Jared Goff of Cal or Carson Wentz of North Dakota State.
“Sam’s a competitor and he wants to go someplace and know he’s the man,” Bradford’s agent, Tom Condon, told the media. “He just doesn’t want to be there holding the place card and then wondering where he’s going at the end of the year.”
Eliot Shorr-Parks, who covers the Eagles for the Star-Ledger of New Jersey, wrote this week that the most likely landing spots for Bradford – if the Eagles decide to deal him – would be the 49ers, Broncos or Jets. The Niners make sense, he believes, because he already knows Kelly’s spread offense and Kelly specifically traded for him before. Shorr-Parks does note, however, that it is Baalke who has control over trades and personnel decisions in San Francisco, not Kelly.
If the 49ers decide to deal Kaepernick, they could bring in Bradford and have him compete with Blaine Gabbert for the starter’s job in 2016 – yet still go after a quarterback in the second or third round to develop for the future.
John Breitenbach of the NFL analytics website Pro Football Focus believes Bradford – though not an elite quarterback and often injured – is likely an upgrade from Gabbert. “Ultimately, a reunion with Chip Kelly seems most likely if Bradford were to be traded by Philadelphia,” writes Breitenbach.
The prospect of Bradford quarterbacking the 49ers doesn’t exactly thrill many 49ers fans, however.
Wrote one on Twitter Tuesday: “I’m so scared the #49ers are dumb enough to trade for Sam Bradford. Please, for the love of God do not let that happen.” Tweeted another: “Please stop writing about Sam Bradford to the Niners. Please.”