Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Making sense of the Haralson Trade

The 49ers traded veteran outside linebacker Parys Haralson to the Saints Monday afternoon, receiving a conditional 7th round draft choice in return.  The condition is that Haralson must make the Saints 53 man roster, which is almost a certainty given their lack of depth at the position.

On the surface receiving a 7th round pick for Haralson makes it appear that the Saints got the better of the deal, however I disagree and think this was a coup for the 49ers.  Let me explain why by taking a deeper look at many of the key factors involved.

Let's start with the fact that Haralson is no longer a 3 down linebacker.  His pass rush skills are below average, which is why the 49ers have not used him in that role since 2009.  In 2010 Ahmad Brooks would replace Haralson on passing downs, and in 2011 it was then rookie Aldon Smith who would replace Haralson.  His role was going to be further diminished in 2012 as the 49ers planned to replace him in the base defense as well, utilizing Smith instead.  Haralson would have played a valuable role of spelling Smith at times in the base defense, but his days as a starter in San Francisco were over.

Early in the 2012 preseason Haralson suffered a triceps injury that forced him to miss the entire season on the Injured Reserve list.  During the offseason he reworked his contract to avoid being release, seemingly ensuring his spot on the team in 2013 as the third outside linebacker, the same role he was to have held the year before.

Compare Haralson's 2013 season and his productivity to that of Anquan Boldin.  The 49ers acquired Boldin, who had just been arguably the Ravens most valuable player during the post season for a 6th round draft pick.  So the 49ers were able to offload a backup linebacker who would play maybe 15% of the defensive snaps for a 7th round pick, while also using only a 6th a few months earlier to pick up a guy who had been the leading receiver for the Super Bowl champs, that's impressive.

Another factor in this move was the salary cap.  The 49ers have some big time contracts to work on over the next 12 months, Aldon Smith, Mike Iupati, and Colin Kaepernick are all in line to receive new deals.  Although the savings they receive from the trade of Haralson is minimal, every dollar counts, and any unused cap from this season will roll over to next year.

A seventh round draft pick, while on the surface looks like a $3.00 off coupon for a pizza, is actually a very valuable commodity come the draft in April.  In reviewing trades that took place around the draft last year you will find that teams trading up often used a 7th round pick as part of getting the deal done. For example, in April's draft the 49ers used 3rd and 7th round picks to move up and select Corey Lemonier in the 3rd round.

In addition, the 49ers now go into the 2014 draft with a total of 11 picks, the same as they had in 2013, and should add at least one more through the compensatory process for the free agency losses of Delanie Walker, Dashon Goldson, Isaac Sopoaga, Ricky Jean Francois, and Ted Ginn.  Of those picks 5 will occur in rounds 1-3.

In reviewing the deal in its entirety I think it is easy to say the deal was a good one for the 49ers and will bode well for them this season and into the future.

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