The San Francisco 49ers have reportedly traded defensive lineman DeForest Buckner to the Indianapolis Colts for the 13th pick in the 2020 NFL Draft.
The San Francisco 49ers have just sent shockwaves throughout the entire NFL world. Superstar defensive lineman and fan-favorite DeForest Buckner has reportedly been traded to the Indianapolis Colts for a 2020 first-round pick.
There’s a lot to unpack here.
The trade was first reported by ESPN’s Adam Schefter who detailed the deal that sent Buckner to the Colts for their No. 13 overall selection in the 2020 NFL Draft. This comes mere hours after the Niners handed out a five-year extension to fellow defensive lineman Arik Armstead.
On the surface, 49ers fans have every reason to be angry. Buckner is one of the team’s best and most beloved players. Trading him while re-signing Armstead — a player with more injury concerns and fewer years of success — seems irresponsible.
But there are reasons why this move makes sense.
The 49ers weren’t going to be able to both sign Armstead long-term and give Buckner his extension — especially with George Kittle needing a new deal soon as well. And while it seems as though the team “chose” Armstead over Buckner, there’s more to it than that.
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It’s important to consider that Armstead’s deal was much cheaper than Buckner’s and that the latter had much more trade value than his teammate. That much was proven in the trade that occurred.
The 49ers now have two first-round picks — including the No. 12 overall pick — and significantly more flexibility. Not only have the 49ers freed up room to sign Kittle long-term, but they now have all their options on the table when it comes to the draft.
Without a pick in the second, third, or fourth rounds, the Niners could very well trade down while still maintaining a first-round pick. Or if they want, they could stay put at No. 13, take a premier prospect, and still trade down with their latter pick.
Perhaps they could target some of the top receivers such as Jerry Jeudy, CeeDee Lamb or Henry Ruggs III. Or perhaps they go in a different direction.
Trading Buckner is a shame and it’s not a move that’s initially going to make fans happy. But it was the best move that John Lynch could have made to ensure future flexibility.
Football is a business and sometimes that business requires an organization to part ways with a valued member of the team. Buckner is going to do great things in Indianapolis, but Lynch clearly feels that the 49ers could survive without him.
And with all the capital San Francisco has invested in their defensive line, it’s hard to argue with that.
Losing DeForest Buckner hurts, but it’s important that 49ers fans take solace in knowing that this franchise is set up for future success.
And John Lynch just assured that that’s still the case.