Conflicting information on 49ers placing claim on McKinley originally appeared on NBC Sports Bayarea
Editor's note: After this story initially was posted, NFL Media's Ian Rapoport reported, citing sources, that the 49ers did indeed place a claim on McKinley.
Kyle Shanahan told reporters Wednesday that he was not under the impression that the 49ers put in a waiver claim for former Atlanta Falcons pass rusher Takkarist McKinley.
My question is: Umm, why the heck not?
Now, it wouldn't have mattered anyway. The Cincinnati Bengals, who had a higher waiver priority than San Francisco due to having a worse record, placed a claim and were awarded McKinley on Wednesday. Even if the 49ers had placed a claim, they never had a shot.
But that's beside the point. It really is difficult to understand why the 49ers didn't place a waiver claim for McKinley, if that is indeed true. There basically was no downside.
The 49ers are in desperate need of pass rushers, and McKinley was the best one available, particularly at his given price. Whichever team claimed McKinley was only going to be on the hook for the remainder of his salary this season, which amounted to $875,000. The 49ers currently are jammed up against the salary cap with very little wiggle room, but they could have found a way to make that work. And that likely would have been a worthwhile expense regardless of how McKinley performed upon joining San Francisco.
McKinley is in the final year of his contract and will be an unrestricted free agent at season's end. Should he sign with a new team in free agency, his incumbent team likely would be awarded a compensatory pick in the 2022 NFL Draft.
That's not nothing, particularly for a team with a financial forecast such as the 49ers. With huge contract extensions looming for Fred Warner and Nick Bosa, the 49ers likely will need to balance out their future rosters with more lower-salaried players, and those on their rookie deals certainly would qualify. Had the 49ers placed a claim for McKinley and been awarded him, he could have helped them out both in the present and down the line.
Now, again, they never actually had a chance to get him. But that doesn't mean they shouldn't have tried. If this season truly is lost for the 49ers, they should be trying to win at the margins wherever possible.
Perhaps they had a good reason not to place a claim. But with such little downside, that's difficult to comprehend.