Lynch explains emotional Wilson Jr. trade, why 49ers did it originally appeared on NBC Sports Bayarea
Running back Jeff Wilson was on a plane Tuesday preparing for a week off with his family in Texas when he received a call from John Lynch. The 49ers' general manager informed Wilson that he had been traded to the Miami Dolphins.
On a conference call with local media later Tuesday afternoon, Lynch shared that he could hear the pilot talking in the background when he shared the news with Wilson, who he described as one of his favorite players.
Wilson will reunite with former 49ers offensive coordinator Mike McDaniel, who became the Dolphins' head coach in 2022, as well as his former 49ers teammate and backfield mate Raheem Mostert.
“At first Jeff was excited,” Lynch said. “He felt like Miami was a great spot because he knows Mike and the crew. And then the emotions hit him, and I was able to share with him that, ‘Look, you’re not only one of my favorite players that I’ve ever had the opportunity to be around, you’re one of my favorite people.’ And I think Jeff feels the same way.”
Talks with the Dolphins commenced approximately a week ago, Lynch said, but initial offers were not enough to compensate for how valuable Wilson was to the 49ers. Just before the NFL trade deadline, Dolphins general manager Chris Grier made an offer that Lynch couldn’t refuse.
Lynch and coach Kyle Shanahan had agreed that a fifth-round pick in the 2023 NFL Draft was the line the two had drawn in the sand as far as appropriate compensation for Wilson. On Tuesday, Grier called and made the offer.
"At some point, you can only keep so many, just from a roster approach,” Lynch said. “Like we knew when we made the Christian move, someone was going to have to go, and, ultimately, Jeff’s the one.”
While the 49ers' backfield has dealt with an inordinate amount of injuries, the addition of Christian McCaffrey 12 days earlier has changed the landscape of the team. Wilson wanted to continue to be heavily involved in the offense, which was possibly about to shift.
Elijah Mitchell, who has been rehabbing a sprained MCL in his knee since Week 1, is also projected to be healthy enough to play in the 49ers' Week 10 matchup with the Los Angeles Chargers on "Sunday Night Football" on Nov. 13.
“He was loving being an integral part of a football team,” Lynch said. “Once we did the Christian deal, and seeing Elijah close to returning, man, he wanted the opportunity to be able to do that. We assured him how much we valued him.”
Lynch went on to share how much the 49ers valued Wilson’s attitude throughout his five seasons with the team since being signed as an undrafted free agent in 2018. Wilson’s ability to stay in good spirits, no matter the situation, will be something Lynch will always be grateful for.
“You have to make decisions that are great for your team, but you also try to take care of guys who have taken care of you,” Lynch said. “I care greatly for Jeff and believe me, he’s got a smile that makes everyone feel good and he’s got a fight to him.
“I can’t say enough great things about him. I am happy for him and grateful for everything he brought here.”