There are two questions regarding the 49ers and Lamar Jackson. No. 1: Are the 49ers actually in the conversation to make a run at him? No 2: If they do, what would it cost?
The answer to question one is up for debate. According to ESPN’s Bill Barnwell, the rejoinder is yes, but just barely. On his list of the 16 best fits for Jackson (taking into account salary and likelihood of doing a deal) San Francisco his ranked 15th, edging the Packers for the final spot.
The reason for that is twofold. First, making a move for Jackson would essentially mean the team is giving up on Trey Lance, who has only started four games due to injury after being acquired in exchange for three first rounders two years ago. Second, paying Jackson would cost a ton, and the 49ers have already doled out lucrative contracts to the likes of Christian McCaffrey, Deebo Samuel, George Kittle, Trent Williams and Fred Warner. They also have big extensions for Nick Bosa and Brandon Aiyuk on the horizon.
In order to acquire Lamar, the 49ers would have to do one of two things. Make him an offer that he agrees to — Jackson is reportedly interested in a deal that is worth around $50 million per year — and then send over two first round picks to the Ravens. That’s a bit complicated because the 49ers don’t have a first-round pick this year, meaning they’d reportedly have to wait until after the draft to do a deal with Lamar, and then send over firsts in 2024 and 2025.
There is a way to get around that, however. The Ravens and 49ers could execute a sign-and-trade type deal, where Jackson signs Baltimore’s franchise tag — worth $32.4 million this year — and then is traded to San Francisco for an agreed upon compensation, before SF and the QB work out an extension. What might that compensation be? Here’s Barnwell’s speculation:
Lance would have to head back to the Ravens, but would Baltimore feel the same way about him as Shanahan & Co. did two years ago? These two teams would have to get creative. What about Lance, Aiyuk and a 2024 first-round pick to the Ravens for Jackson and a 2024 fourth-round selection? I believe the 49ers are more likely to stay put at quarterback outside of adding a veteran backup such as Matt Ryan.
When you consider that the 49ers have Deebo Samuel and a host of other weapons, getting rid of Aiyuk doesn’t sound like the worst thing in the world. Moving Lance would essentially be a wash because you are replacing him with Jackson, and it’s likely the first rounder is a late round pick considering San Francisco’s recent success.
As enticing as it sounds, it’s probably still a pipe dream. Barnwell believes there are 14 teams that are better fits for Jackson. The No. 1 and No. 2 teams both come out of the NFC South, the Falcons and Panthers, respectively. Luckily for the 49ers, none of their NFC West rivals are seen as better fits for the 2019 MVP.