This is an idea that makes the most sense when discussed at a bar with a couple pints of Pliny the SomethingOrOther, but since this is a holiday weekend and half of you are probably reading this with a mimosa and/or bloody mary buzz I’m not going to let practicalities derail me.
The Oakland Raiders and San Francisco 49ers haven’t worked together all that often or well, as is common with Bay Area teams residing in the same league. That’s why, even though it makes a ludicrous amount of sense to share a new stadium, it’s a discussion that also doubles as a complete waste of time. It’s like arguing that Justin Bieber fans should start listening to nothing but Slayer. It’s Never going to happen.
But football-wise, the two teams can and maybe should work together. The Raiders suffered through a brutal 4-12 campaign in the first full season A.A.D. (After Al Davis), mostly because they don’t have a lot of talent. They could use reinforcements at every position besides kicker and punter, and they have the No. 3 overall pick.
The 49ers look to have 14 picks in the draft, so if they’re going to move up at any point in the next few years this is probably the time to do it. They also have Alex Smith, who’s set to make a little more than half what Carson Palmer is slated to earn in 2013.
If the Raiders can either trade Palmer (good luck) or release him (better luck), they’ll need a quarterback to help buy some time while they figure out whether Terrelle Pryor can follow the path recently led by guys like Colin Kaepernick, Russell Wilson and Robert Griffin III. However, unless West Virginia’s Geno Smith falls past the Chiefs AND the Jaguars, the Raiders won’t be taking a quarterback with the third pick unless they really reach.
The Raiders should really move down in this draft. They aren’t one or two players away from being a playoff team, and there isn’t a clear franchise-type talent worth standing pat for.
The 49ers, like all teams, could use some depth as well. However, they’re already a Super Bowl contender as currently assembled. Now is not the time to fill out a roster, now is the time to make changes/additions that will help win specific games 10-11 months from now against other talented teams.
Moving up to No. 3 would give the 49ers a strong chance of acquiring the guy who seems like a logical fit: Star Lotulelei. Every amateur 49ers GM in the world knows San Francisco needs to find a replacement for Justin Smith, and it’s almost guaranteed the 49ers will let Isaac Sopoaga leave via free agency, something we’ll focus on later.
Lotulelei, a 6-4, 325 lb nose tackle from Utah, was a first-team AP and Walter Camp All-American in 2012. His game doesn’t mimic Smith’s, but Lotulelei is similar in the face that he’s a strong man who consistently takes up two or three blockers and rarely leaves the field.
There’s a chance Lotulelei isn’t available at choice No. 3, but I’m the furthest thing from an expert on the NFL Draft. Then again, even the experts get this stuff wrong; it’s difficult to remember many draft pundits who had Aldon Smith going to the 49ers at No. 7 a couple years ago.
One potential issue for the 49ers arises if the Raiders overvalue the third overall pick. The Rams got the Redskins’ first rounder in 2012 (No. 6 overall), as well as Washington’s first rounders in 2013 and 2014. The 49ers are at No. 31, and it’s hard to see them handing over their first round selections in 2014 and 2015 for the chance to take Lotulelei or one of the DE/OLBs available at that slot. Teams only trade multiple first round picks for quarterbacks like Griffin.
The Raiders also might want to think about the marketing angle. Even though a growing number of fans appreciate the idea of trading down and building a team with the help of several clever mid-round selections, the Raiders don’t have many stars to promote. The fans are tiring quickly of Palmer’s 300-yard, 1 TD, 2 INT losses, and Darren McFadden can’t stay on the field. Richard Seymour is the closest thing Oakland has to a defensive star, and he’s probably headed elsewhere.
Huh. This isn’t going as well as I thought when I started. Maybe in lieu of draft picks, the 49ers could allow the Raiders to play in their Santa Clara stadium for the first year or two after it opens for business, rent free. Sorry, my practical side is starting to come out again, and I almost finished this post without that happening. While a trade like this could certainly help both teams, we should probably file this idea in the bin with “The Giants should play one last game at Candlestick” or “The Warriors are totally going to get that arena built by 2017.”