The NFL season hasn't even started yet, and it already appears the 49ers dodged a bullet by not trading for star receiver Antonio Brown over the offseason.
The now-Raiders wideout has been at the center of tons of drama so far in training camp, as he recently threatened to retire from the NFL if he isn't allowed to wear the helmet he desires (which has been deemed unsafe by NFL standards). Before that, he had suited up for only one Raiders practice after suffering frostbite on his feet after entering a cryo chamber without proper footwear.
Before this tumultuous start to his Raiders career, Brown, then with the Steelers, was the hottest trade chip on the market for much of the offseason. The 49ers, needing another playmaker for QB Jimmy Garoppolo, were heavily rumored to be a potential match for the star receiver. Tight end George Kittle infamously tweeted at Brown, and there were plenty of back-and-forths on social media between AB and the 49ers, including AB photoshopping himself in a 49ers uniform.
But all of that was just speculation. The 49ers front office never appeared to be as sold on Brown as those on social media -- and recent events justify their caution.
Shortly after the Raiders acquired Brown, NBC Sports Bay Area's 49ers Insider Matt Maiocco wrote that the 49ers never seemed to be interested in Brown, as coach Kyle Shanahan has always stressed the importance of adding high-character, team-first veterans who are reliable in the locker room.
Back at the NFL scouting combine in February -- when Brown was still on the market -- 49ers coach Kyle Shanahan spoke about the pros and cons of adding a talented, yet drama-filled star
"You take it into account with everything," Shanahan said, addressing the topic without alluding to Brown specifically. "That's why you like to deal with people you know and have an idea on. We try to hold everyone accountable on our team. We're pretty consistent with that.
"So if someone isn't like that, yeah, we do have a problem with that. I don't think anyone is good enough to deal with that."
This is not a new stance for Shanahan or one specific to AB. After the 49ers coach's first season at the helm, he spoke about how important it is to have high-character players on his team.
"I do not mind overpaying for character -- guys who are going to come in and work, who compete on the practice field, who can handle being coached, who aren't coming in extremely sensitive and not putting themselves above anyone else," Shanahan said back in March, 2018. "If you bring in an entitled guy, it hurts your team."
Brown is the Raiders' problem now, and there's no doubt that Shanahan, 49ers general manager John Lynch and the rest of the organization is thrilled that they do not have to deal with the day-in, day-out drama in Santa Clara.
[RELATED: How Jimmy G is bonding with WRs]
With their first preseason game just hours away, all eyes will be on the 49ers' players for their contributions on the field, not off it.
You can bet the 49ers are pretty pleased with that.
Antonio Brown-Raiders saga shows 49ers were smart not to trade for him originally appeared on NBC Sports Bay Area