Now that the draft is over, the 49ers will trade for:
A. Braylon Edwards
B. Anquan Boldin
C. Julius Peppers
D. None of the above.
The correct outcome likely will be D. But C makes an awful lot of sense. Consider the following: The 49ers did not select an outside linebacker/pass rusher in the draft nor did they pick one up in free agency. Peppers, meanwhile, had 14 ½ sacks last year and has made no secret that he not only wants out of Carolina but would prefer to play for a team that uses a 3-4 defense. Paging coach Manusky ...
But wait, there's more. The Panther's have made a franchise tender offer that would pay Peppers a whopping $16.683 million in 2009. Peppers doesn't want to sign it and the Panthers have been hamstrung, salary-cap wise, because of it. The team is holding a three-day minicamp this weekend and no one in the organization is sure whether Peppers will show up. Meanwhile the 49ers shopped lightly in free agency this year and still have plenty of salary-cap space, certainly enough to ink Peppers, 29, to a long-term deal.
I don't know whether the 49ers are seriously considering Peppers. And I don't know whether they even envision Peppers as a stand-up, 3-4 outside linebacker. What I do know is that the two GM's, Scot McCloughan and Marty Hurney, already have made a deal this week. McCloughan gave Hurney his second- and fourth-round picks Sunday for Hurney's first rounder next year. The Panthers used the second rounder to draft a ... wait for it ... pass rusher, Florida State's Everette Brown. It's not a stretch to view Brown as Peppers' eventual replacement.
What will it take to pry Peppers from the Panthers? Probably a first-round pick coupled with some combination of other draft picks and/or players. The Panthers don't have a first rounder next year because of their trade with the 49ers. The 49ers, meanwhile, have two first rounders. Could they give one of them right back to Carolina for Peppers? Like I said, it makes an awful lot of sense.
-- Matt Barrows