John Lynch

Examining 49ers' busy trade-deadline history in John Lynch era

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Because of general manager John Lynch’s history of swinging midseason deals, there was an assumption the 49ers would add a vital piece to their puzzle at the NFL trade deadline.

“We've had a nice track record, but it's tough because it's become an expectation that we're going to do something,” Lynch said Wednesday morning on a conference call with Bay Area reporters.

“Everyone's kind of looking at you close to the trade deadline when you haven't done something yet, and you're saying, ‘Hold on, Randy Gregory, we did that.'"

Trades certainly were not commonplace for the 49ers before Lynch came to the organization.

In fact, the 49ers had made just one in-season trade in the 11 seasons prior to Lynch's hiring. That came in October 2015 when the 49ers sent center Nick Eaton to Minnesota for linebacker Gerald Hodges.

Not exactly a blockbuster.

So, yes, while the 49ers recently acquired Gregory from the Denver Broncos, most folks were thinking bigger.

And that big move was delivered 90 minutes before the deadline. Lynch and Washington Commanders general manager Martin Mayhew finalized a deal to send defensive end Chase Young to the 49ers for a third-round “special compensatory” draft pick in the 2024 NFL Draft.

The addition of Young is the latest in what has become an annual drill for Lynch and the 49ers to make deals at the deadline.

The 49ers have sent three players to other teams while picking up a handful of notable players, too.

Here is a look at the in-season trades the 49ers have made since Lynch and coach Kyle Shanahan took over the football side of the organization in 2017:

Oct. 31, 2017: Acquired quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo from Patriots for 2018 second-round pick.

There are so many ways to look back on this trade.

The 49ers did not give up much to acquire a player who performed well and helped the 49ers to a 42-19 record, including 4-2 in the postseason, with him at quarterback.

But if the 49ers had not made the trade, they almost assuredly would have ended up signing Kirk Cousins during the 2018 offseason.

Garoppolo compiled a 97.7 passer rating in the regular season, but he missed a lot of games due to injuries and the 49ers did not win a Super Bowl. Shanahan was looking for more, and the decision was made to find his replacement following the 2020 NFL season.

Still, he remained with the team for two more seasons with the end coming when he sustained a fractured foot that opened the door for Brock Purdy.

Oct. 31, 2017: Traded cornerback Rashard Robinson to Jets for 2018 fifth-round draft pick.

It did not take Lynch and Shanahan long to figure out Robinson was not a great fit. They were fortunate to get a fifth-round pick for him. The 49ers ended up trading that pick.

He had his share of off-field issues and started only four more games with three different teams over the next 3 1/2 seasons.

Oct. 22, 2019: Acquired wide receiver Emmanuel Sanders from Broncos (along with a 2020 fifth-round pick) for 2020 third-round pick and 2020 fourth-round pick.

Other than rookie Deebo Samuel, the 49ers did not have much at wide receiver in 2019. Sanders came to the team and ended up catching 36 passes for 502 yards and three touchdowns.

His presence on Samuel -- and the entire team -- still is looked upon favorably.

The 49ers picked up a fifth-round pick in the 2021 NFL Draft for compensation when Sanders signed with the New Orleans Saints in 2020 as a free agent. The 49ers used that pick to select safety Talanoa Hufanga.

Oct. 21, 2020: Acquired defensive end Jordan Willis (along with a 2021 seventh-round pick) from the for a 2022 sixth-round pick.

The 49ers gave up very little to acquire Willis, who ended up appearing in 26 regular-season games and registering 7.5 sacks as a rotational defensive end.

His biggest contribution came in the 2021 postseason, when Hufanga picked up his blocked punt and returned it for a touchdown to propel the 49ers to an upset over the top-seeded Green Bay Packers in the divisional round.

Nov. 2, 2020: Traded linebacker Kwon Alexander to Saints for linebacker Kiko Alonso and 2021 fifth-round pick.

The emergence of Dre Greenlaw made Kwon Alexander expendable. Injured linebacker Kiko Alonso was thrown into the trade for bookkeeping purposes. He was waived shortly thereafter when he failed a physical.

The 49ers added a starting cornerback, Deommodore Lenoir, with the pick obtained for Alexander.

Nov. 2, 2021: Acquired defensive lineman Charles Omenihu from Texans for 2023 sixth- round pick.

The 49ers made the deal for Omenihu because he had 1 1/2 seasons remaining on his contract.

He ended up fitting in nicely on the field as a versatile defensive lineman. In 26 games (three starts), he had 4.5 sacks.

Omenihu signed with Kansas City this offseason, and the 49ers are in line to pick up a sixth-round compensatory pick in the 2024 NFL Draft as a result, according to

Oct. 20, 2022: Acquired running back Christian McCaffrey from Panthers for 2023 picks in the second, third and fourth rounds, as well as a fifth-round pick in 2024.

Yes, the 49ers gave up a lot to acquire McCaffrey. But this was not just a one-year rental, either.

McCaffrey remains under contract with the 49ers through the 2025 season.

He quickly turned into the focal point of the offense. He heads into the team’s Nov. 12 game at Jacksonville tied with Baltimore’s Lenny Moore (1963-64) for the NFL record of 17 consecutive games with at least one touchdown.

Nov. 1, 2022: Traded running back Jeff Wilson to Dolphins for 2023 fifth-round pick.

The addition of McCaffrey made Wilson expendable. His contract was set to expire at the end of the season. The 49ers sent Wilson to a familiar system in Miami, where he was reunited with coach Mike McDaniel.

Oct. 6: Acquired defensive end Randy Gregory (and a 2024 seventh-round pick) to the Broncos for a 2024 sixth-round pick.

The Broncos were ready to move in a different direction after signing Gregory to a five-year, $70 million contract in March of 2022.

Gregory got a sack in his first game and almost immediately replaced Drake Jackson as the team’s top nickel pass-rusher.

The 49ers did not give up much in draft capital, and they are responsible for only the veteran minimum salary for the remainder of the season. The 49ers have no future financial obligation attached to Gregory, who is likely to be released in the offseason.

Oct. 31: Acquired defensive end Chase Young from Commanders for a 2024 third-round “special compensatory” pick.

And, now, all the edge rushers not named Nick Bosa move one spot down the depth chart with the arrival of Young.

The 49ers gave up a “special compensatory” selection in the 2024 NFL Draft -- expected somewhere near No. 100 overall.

Young is scheduled for unrestricted free agency in March. If he plays well and signs a nice contract elsewhere, Young would provide the 49ers with a nice compensatory selection (as high as the third round) in the 2025 NFL Draft.

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