The 49ers were linked with several players on trade deadline day but ultimately made just one move, sending running back Jeff Wilson Jr. to the Miami Dolphins in exchange for a 2023 fifth-round pick.
While many have raised concerns about the 49ers’ injury history at that position, as well as Jeff Wilson Jr.’s efficiency this season, here’s the reason the 49ers are making the move.
Getting a fifth-round pick for a backup running back in the upcoming draft is impressive, especially when that RB is third on the depth chart.
For perspective, the Jacksonville Jaguars received just a sixth-round pick from the New York Jets in exchange for running back James Robinson, who is two years Wilson’s junior and has rushed for 1,000 yards in a season while averaging 4.5 Yards per carry throughout his career.
In another trade-deadline deal, the Buffalo Bills traded for Nyheim Hines in exchange for a sixth-round pick while also giving up running back Zack Moss.
Overall, the compensation was definitely a significant amount considering Wilson’s status on the depth chart and the value of his position, making it worth trading the running back.
Wilson, Jr. was the starting gun for the 49ers for most of 2022 after Elijah Mitchell went down in Week 1 with an MCL sprain.
Two weeks ago, however, San Francisco traded for star running back Christian McCaffrey, questioning how much playing time Wilson Jr. would get going forward.
Wilson had seven carries for 54 yards against the Chiefs in Week 7 while McCaffrey was brought on offense, but that volume diminished to just four of the team’s 23 carries in Week 8 after McCaffrey was able to get a full week of practice and Kyle Shanahan had a whole week of game planning with his new weapon.
Wilson played in 36% of San Francisco’s offensive snaps in Week 8, but that was mostly because he filled in at FB after losing Kyle Juszczyk, who fractured his finger in Week 7.
Additionally, the 49ers are expected to have Elijah Mitchell back after bye week, according to NBC Sports’ Matt Maiocco, lowering Wilson’s stakes even further.
When Mitchell returned from injured reserve, the 49ers had five running backs on the active roster, which is untenable for a 53-man roster, especially considering they currently have four tight ends, meaning one player had to leave .
San Francisco drafted Tyrion Davis-Price in the third round of the 2022 NFL Draft and has confidence in him going forward, making it unreasonable to defer him.
Undrafted rookie Jordan Mason has been the main running back to play on special teams and has flashed given the season.
Additionally, Mason has two more years of team control, while Wilson will be a free agent by the end of the year, which makes sense to stick with the former rather than the latter.
On a conference call after the trade deadline, general manager John Lynch admitted to reporters that Wilson approached him after trading for McCaffrey to express his desire to contribute.
“Jeff in a way let us know that of course he loves it here, but he also loves being an integral part of a football team,” Lynch said. “And once we made the Christian [McCaffrey] Deal to see some sort of Elijah [Mitchell] just before returning that he wanted the opportunity to continue to do so.”
“And we have reassured him how much we value him, but if all of these things come to fruition and there is a team willing to pay what we think is a fair price, then we would try to work with him. but [we] also said, “Jeff, you’re too important to us. We believe we have the team to do it and you are very important to that.’”
However, Lynch assured Wilson that given the organization’s feelings towards him, he would be in the best position for success, which is why Miami made so much sense since they run a similar program to San Francisco.
“One of the things Mike wanted to share is that he knows how special Jeff is to us,” Lynch said. “He wanted to reassure us that he would take good care of him. Mike is a great guy. And part of that is you have to make great decisions for your team, but you’re also trying to care about the people who care about you.”
“I’m not saying Jeff asked to be traded or anything, but I think given the situation, if we could find the right situation for him… he wanted that opportunity. And we found, I think, a really good situation for him and good for us too.”
Overall, given the compensation in return, the likelihood of a weird man in the running back room, and Wilson’s request, the trade was well-starred, so the move was sensible.
The trade also shows the confidence the organization has in its rookie running backs, and they are brought in as the next-man-up should one of San Francisco’s top running backs suffer another injury.
The opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and, while equally important, not necessarily those of the site as a whole.
According to ESPN’s Jeremy Fowler, the San Francisco 49ers have received calls from teams inquiring about a Jeff Wilson Jr. return. The Niners are reportedly willing to listen to potential offers. The #49ers have received calls from RB Jeff Wilson and are ready to listen to potential offers per source. Wilson is playing well — he’s ranked 11th in rushing with 454 yards — but Christian McCaffrey’s arrival and Elijah Mitchell’s narrow return have crowded the backfield. — Jeremy Fowler (@JFowlerESPN)
The San Francisco 49ers made a splash weeks ago by acquiring running back Christian McCaffrey, but they’re not done yet. ESPN’s Adam Schefter reported that the 49ers are trading running back Jeff Wilson Jr. to the Dolphins for a 2023 fifth-round pick. Trade: 49ers trade RB Jeff Wilson to Miami, per source. — Adam Schefter (@AdamSchefter) November 1,
The San Francisco 49ers traded Jeff Wilson Jr., the team’s longest-serving running back, for a fifth-round pick to the Miami Dolphins. The decision to part ways with Wilson, the team’s speedy leader, in 2020 was not an easy one for him. “I mean, we love Jeff Wilson and I would hate to lose him,” head coach Kyle Shanahan said just hours before the trade. General manager John Lynch took part in a conference call with reporters after the trading deadline this afternoon to explain the decision to sell Wilson. He said the Dolphins got in touch a week ago to inquire about the 49ers running back. ESPN’s Jeremy Fowler
San Francisco 49ers general manager John Lynch spoke to reporters on a conference call shortly after the team traded running back Jeff Wilson Jr. to the Miami Dolphins. Here’s everything he had to say. Transcript provided by San Francisco 49ers communications staff. Can you walk us through the process of the last few hours and how it all came about? “Yeah, well Miami, they probably first got in touch, I don’t know, a week ago. And just sort of conceptually talked about being interested in [RB] Jeff[Wilson[Wilson[Wilson[Wilson