AB to the Bay? More like A.J. — Bengals star the perfect fit in Santa Clara

As fun as Antonio Brown to the 49ers would be, how realistic is it when A.J. Green could be had for less?

Tommy Call
January 03, 2019 - 8:46 pm

From the eye emoji tweets to Instagram follows, there's been a lot of buzz pointing toward the 49ers potentially acquiring Antonio Brown.

Exciting, right?

That’s what the offseason is all about, but how realistic is it that the 49ers can pull off a trade to land one of the league's best playmakers? Ehh. It all comes down to the cost, and it could be high, like two first-round picks and more high.

Sound worth it for a team that has several holes on both sides of the ball?

The 49ers should be in the market to acquire a weapon to add to Jimmy Garoppolo’s quartet of receivers, but it would be a shock for the Steelers to trade Brown, and a even bigger shock for them to trade him for anything in reason.

One thing we know about the Steelers is how little they care about their players wants and needs (ie: Le'Veon Bell). So, why would they now trade Brown? Because of his social media? Doubtful. With all that being said— there is another star pass catcher out of the AFC North that could be on the trade block when the NFL’s version of the hot stove starts cooking and his name is A.J. Green.

Green and Brown will both be turning 31 next season, although Brown will be entering his ninth season as a pro. Brown has 11 more career receiving touchdowns than Green with one more season under his belt— plus Green only played nine games in 2018. Brown is considered by many a better playmaker than Green, and he has that right, but he’s been catching passes from a future Hall of Fame passer (Ben Roethlisberger) while Green has been with Andy Dalton.

Now imagine Green with Garoppolo in Shanahan’s offense. Now that’s something to get excited about.

Green would fit in really anywhere in the 49ers offense — his size at 6’4, 210 lbs naturally slates him to the outside which would line up Dante Pettis on the inside and Marquise Goodwin as the deep threat. What makes Green special is his ability to make plays all over the field — his size pushes him to the outside, but his route running and speed gives him the versatility to line up anywhere, something Shanahan covets. Pairing Pettis and Green next to the NFL’s best tight end would give Shanahan serious firepower in the redzone.

Now for the negative side of things — Green will be 31, heading into the final year of his contract, a contract that isn’t cheap. His cap hit would be around $15 million next season, and then that’s it, no guarantee Green will sign an extension even if he has a bounce back season in Santa Clara.

So could this be a rental? Yes.

Is that a bad thing? Maybe — Let’s go back to Brown. He’s has cap hits of $22 million, $18 million and $19 million in his age 33 season. Not even mentioning he would cost a ton in draft stock to acquire. Now let’s turn to Green’s cost.

While the Steelers have zero pressure (Tweets and IG follows aside) to trade Brown, the Bengals hit the reset button this offseason. They should be desperate to trade Green before he leaves in the open market. At the highest Green would arguably cost a second-round pick, maybe less because he is coming off a toe injury that led to his worst season as a pro (he still caught more touchdowns than any 49er in 2018, and only played nine games).

And for those questioning the risk of this trade — in Year 3 of the Shanahan/John Lynch reign, it's time to take a risk. This team needs playmakers to compete with clubs like the LA Rams, and it starts with acquiring a guy like Green.

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