The San Francisco 49ers are a perfect fit for Antonio Brown

(Photo by Chris Graythen/Getty Images)
(Photo by Chris Graythen/Getty Images) /

Antonio Brown appears poised to leave the Pittsburgh Steelers, and here’s why the San Francisco 49ers are a perfect fit for the All-Pro wide receiver.

The Antonio Brown stakes can officially begin after the Pittsburgh Steelers agreed to work to try to deal their All-Pro wide receiver, and the San Francisco 49ers will be regarded by many as the natural trading partner to end a saga that began before the season even ended.

With San Francisco short on premier talent at wide receiver and numerous current 49ers courting him on social media, it is not difficult to see why the Niners have frontrunner status in the eyes of many when it comes to likely destinations for Brown.

However, the 49ers have limited draft picks with which to work with this year and substantial holes to fill on the defensive side of the ball. The combination of those two factors, as well as talk of Brown’s antics on social media scaring away teams, may lead many to be believe this is a deal San Francisco should not do.

Despite all the noise around his off-field activity and the 49ers’ other areas of concern, there are multiple reasons why they are the perfect fit for the four-time first-team All-Pro.

A cohesive locker room

Though Brown will hardly be considered blameless in the breakdown of relations between himself and the Steelers, the fallout and Brown’s criticism of Ben Roethlisberger as a quarterback with “an owner mentality” who can even call out coaches hardly paints the picture of a happy locker room in Pittsburgh.

Should Brown wind up with San Francisco he would enter a locker room that appears blessed with an admirable unity. The Niners have come through an 0-9 start to 2017 and a 2018 in which they played three different quarterbacks with no real talk of discord.

With elder statesmen such as Joe Staley and Richard Sherman providing veteran voices, looking in from the outside the 49ers’ locker room seems to be an extremely cohesive one that Brown should relish potentially joining.

Jimmy Garoppolo

While there is no doubting the incredible chemistry Roethlisberger and Brown had on the field, it also at this point must be accepted that the Steelers quarterback’s best years are behind him.

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The same cannot be said of 49ers signal-caller Jimmy Garoppolo. Though it may take him some time to recapture the form that saw him lead San Francisco a 5-0 finish in 2017 after tearing his ACL last season, at 27 years old, Garoppolo still has a long career ahead of him and it is fair to believe his best is yet to come.

Garoppolo immediately elevated the talent around him when he initially became San Francisco’s starter and, providing he can harness his 2017 level of performance upon his return from injury, could well extend the prime of the now 30-year-old Brown if they quickly manage to build a rapport.

Kyle Shanahan

Were the Steelers to strike a deal with the 49ers, Brown would be landing with arguably the ideal coach to make the most of his incredible abilities. Even with the San Francisco offense being run by C.J. Beathard and Nick Mullens for the majority of the year, the 49ers still ranked 16th in total yards per game and 15th in passing yards per game in 2018.

That is a testament to Kyle Shanahan’s offense and his ability to scheme receivers open, from which Brown would benefit greatly.

With Garoppolo running the Shanahan offense and the likes of George Kittle and Dante Pettis also sure to attract the attention of opposing defenses, were Brown to end up with the Niners he would hardly be in a better spot in which to continue his remarkable six-season streak of racking up at least 1,200 yards and eight touchdowns.

Cap space

According to Jason Fitzgerald of Over The Cap, the Niners are estimated to have $65.2 million in cap space. Six teams are set to have more room to work with, but that is still more than enough cap room for the Niners to look to pay Brown what he desires on the back of any potential deal and still be active in free agency.

With their salary cap space and the second overall pick in the 2019 NFL Draft, the 49ers have the means to quickly make the leap to contender, and the odds of them being one would dramatically increase with Brown inserted into the Shanahan attack.

A team boasting an offense led by Shanahan, quarterbacked by Garoppolo and featuring Brown and Kittle could compete with any team in an NFL in which that side of the ball is king. And the Niners’ scope to make some premier additions on defense should make them a very attractive proposition to Brown as he eyes a first Super Bowl ring.

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The level of compensation and any potential San Francisco reticence over Brown as a locker room influence or recent reports surrounding his off-field behaviour could prove stumbling blocks, but this is a trade that would make sense for both sides. For a Niners regime likely to be under pressure after 10 wins in two seasons, this is a big swing worth taking.