How Dolphins used picks from Lance trade to become contenders originally appeared on NBC Sports Bayarea
As the 2022 NFL trade deadline came and went Tuesday, the Miami Dolphins acquired linebacker Bradley Chubb from the Denver Broncos -- officially unloading the last of the draft picks they received from the 49ers in March 2021.
San Francisco’s trade with the Dolphins 19 months ago allowed it to move up in that year’s draft and select quarterback Trey Lance No. 3 overall, while Miami walked away with the No. 12 pick in 2021, first-round selections in 2022 and 2023 and a third-round pick in 2022.
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The Dolphins did not use any of those first-round draft picks, instead trading them away in moves that since have helped them build around quarterback Tua Tagovailoa and return to playoff form.
It’s a long, winding road, but let’s take a look at how Miami has made the most of that trade with the 49ers and where those first-round picks ultimately ended up:
2021 No. 12 overall pick
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After finishing the 2020 NFL season at the bottom of the NFC West with a 6-10 record, an injury-ridden 49ers team ended up with the No. 12 pick in the 2021 draft. San Francisco checked its free-agency boxes prior to the big day then shocked the football world with a blockbuster trade that sent four picks to the Dolphins for their No. 3 selection.
With its new treasure chest full of San Francisco what-could-have-beens, Miami immediately got to work. The Dolphins jumped back into the draft’s top 10 by dealing their new No. 12 pick to the Philadelphia Eagles along with the No. 123 pick and a 2022 first-rounder (not the one they received from the 49ers).
With the sixth overall pick in the 2021 NFL Draft, Miami selected wide receiver Jaylen Waddle. During his first year in the pros, Waddle broke the NFL record for most catches in a rookie season. And this year, he currently ranks No. 4 in receiving yards, No. 4 in receiving touchdowns and No. 5 in yards per catch.
So where did the No. 12 pick end up? The Eagles traded it to the Dallas Cowboys, who selected linebacker Micah Parsons.
2022 first-round pick (No. 29 overall)
The Dolphins made a splash in March by using the 2022 first-round pick they got from the 49ers in a trade with the Kansas City Chiefs for star receiver Tyreek Hill.
The former 49ers pick was one of five draft selections Miami sent to the Chiefs for Hill. The No. 29 pick was the only first-rounder included in the package and thus was the centerpiece of yet another blockbuster.
Hill already was one of the league’s elite deep threats with quarterback Patrick Mahomes chucking him the ball, and the Dolphins certainly hoped Tagovailoa would thrive this season with another weapon at his disposal alongside Waddle.
And thrive they have.
Ahead of Waddle in receiving yards this season is Hill, who has the most in the NFL with 961 through eight weeks. Hill also leads the league in receptions (69) and targets (92).
As for that No. 29 pick? The Chiefs ended up trading with the New England Patriots to move up to No. 21 in the draft, and Bill Belichick and Co. selected offensive lineman Cole Strange 29th overall.
2023 first-round pick
Last but certainly not least, the Dolphins utilized the final first-round pick acquired from the 49ers to trade for Chubb.
Miami on Tuesday sent their 2023 first-rounder (from San Francisco), a 2024 fourth-round pick and running back Chase Edmonds to the Broncos in exchange for Chubb and a 2025 fifth-round pick.
Chubb has performed well in Denver this season, recording 26 tackles, 5.5 sacks, two forced fumbles and one pass deflection through eight games. His efforts helped contribute to a Broncos defense that is ranked as one of the NFL’s best this season, allowing the second-fewest points per game in 2022 behind the Buffalo Bills.
The 26-year-old linebacker joins a Miami team that is in the thick of the AFC playoff picture but just gave up 393 yards to the Detroit Lions in Week 8. The Dolphins certainly could use his help, and now he finds himself on a team that’s 5-3 rather than 3-5.
Miami didn’t trade the 2022 third-round pick they received from the 49ers in the Lance deal, drafting Georgia linebacker Channing Tindall. The rookie has appeared in seven games this season with Miami, logging two tackles.
And at long last, Tuesday’s trade deadline brought an end to the saga of the picks San Francisco gave away for Lance.
The Dolphins and new coach Mike McDaniel have been able to reap immediate benefits from that March 2021 trade, but the 49ers still aren’t certain about what they have in Lance after the young quarterback broke his ankle in Week 2.
But at the end of the day, both teams still are in the 2022 NFL playoff race.
The Dolphins currently hold the no. 6 seed in the AFC and are in third place in the East, while the 49ers, at 4-4, are hanging on to the seventh and final playoff spot in the NFC and trail only the Seattle Seahawks in the West.
And while the 49ers Faithful never will know how San Francisco could have used those picks, they can look forward to a future with the multifaceted Lance at the center of the offense.