Trent Williams might walk away from the 49ers in free agency.
And it will mostly be their own doing. From rescinding their ability to franchise tag him, to failing to get a deal done back in December and when they acquired him. To be frank, I believe Williams is as good as gone. That means the 49ers need to have a contingency plan or some sort of alternative once he leaves.
One avenue the 49ers can explore is the trade market (again). The Ravens are allowing stud left tackle Orlando Brown Jr. to explore trade possibilities per Jeremy Fowler of ESPN. Brown is a stellar player who would instantly boost any team he joins. He is only 24 years old and will make nearly $3.4 million in 2021. Brown sounds like a superb replacement for Williams.
So should the 49ers attempt to trade for Brown?
No, the 49ers shouldn't, and it is not because of anything wrong with Brown.
If the 49ers were to acquire him, then they would be in great standing. The part that is wrong with trading for Brown is that it is the Williams trade all over again. The 49ers will once again be in a desperate spot to find an adequate replacement at left tackle. Only this time Brown will come at a significantly greater cost.
By acquiring Brown, the 49ers will have openly admitted that they fumbled the handling of Williams. If there is one thing the 49ers love, especially Kyle Shanahan, it is their image. Trading for Brown while Williams walks looks like a panic move. They could have extended him immediately once they traded for him. That is what the Vikings were going to do had they gotten their hands on Williams. Instead, the 49ers operated in good faith with Williams by restructuring his deal to forfeit their ability to franchise tag him.
They might be regretting that decision now.
Trading for Brown could also be perceived poorly by the players. They could question as to why the 49ers didn't want to take care of their own guy in Williams, but would go after Brown.
The thing is with Brown, if the 49ers bring him in they have to extend him. There is no question about that. And at least if they give him a lucrative deal, it is the better value for the 49ers than to do so with Williams. Again, acquiring Brown would help the team immensely, but at a heavy cost when they can just keep the picks and surrender serious cash to Williams.
The 49ers have to have alternative options at their disposal when and if Williams leaves. Otherwise, their already questionable offensive line will sink deeper.