The way that the NFL draft works is that teams who struggle get high draft picks while teams who win big have to wait until the later picks in each round.
The San Francisco 49ers made it to the Super Bowl in the 2019 NFL season, so their first-round 2020 NFL Draft pick is next to last — behind only the Super Bowl champion Kansas City Chiefs.
However, the 49ers will have an early draft pick anyway, thanks to making a trade as the 2020 NFL free agency period begins.
San Francisco 49ers make big trade
The reason the 49ers get a higher NFL draft pick — as well as keeping their own spot in the draft — is because they traded one of their top stars.
ESPN reports that San Francisco traded defensive tackle DeForest Buckner to the Indianapolis Colts for their first-round draft pick. That means the 49ers have the 13th overall pick in the draft and their own 31st overall pick.
To make things good for the Colts, Buckner also signed a new contract to make sure the Colts get a good return on their investment.
His new deal pays him $21 million per year, which is the second-highest — behind only Aaron Donald — for defensive tackles.
Is he worth it for the Colts to give up a first-round draft pick?
In 2019, Buckner had 62 tackles with two forced fumbles, four fumble recoveries, and 7.5 sacks.
He has played four seasons and has 28.5 total sacks for his career. In the 2019 NFL playoffs, Buckner had 12 tackles and 2.5 sacks in the three games.
Because the Colts traded away their first-round pick, they likely won’t be taking a starting quarterback in the 2020 NFL Draft. This means they are either comfortable with Jacoby Brissett or plan to sign a free agent like Philip Rivers.
The Colts are busy trying to improve their defense to match up to their significantly improved offense, which sports one of the top offensive lines in the NFL.
Breaking: The Indianapolis Colts have acquired 49ers' Pro-Bowl DE Deforest Buckner in exchange for their 2020 first-round draft pick. pic.twitter.com/xQkiNPewsu
— Indy SportsOne (@IndySportsOne) March 16, 2020
San Francisco 49ers in 2020
The San Francisco 49ers trading away DeForest Buckner is a little surprising since he was their seventh overall pick in the 2016 NFL Draft and has been a stalwart for their defense since that draft.
He has only missed one game in his NFL career and won the Bill Walsh Award for the top 49ers player who “represents the standard of professional excellence.”
It looks like Buckner became expendable when the 49ers signed defensive lineman Arik Armstead to an $85 million deal over five seasons. In 2019, Armstead had 10 sacks.
General manager John Lynch mentioned making “tradeoffs” and this appears to be one of those cases, but at least it gave the 49ers back some draft capital.
This comes the same day that the Dallas Cowboys placed the franchise tag on Dak Prescott and the Houston Texans shocked the world by trading their best offensive weapon, DeAndre Hopkins.