Could joint practices lead to Broncos-49ers trade? It's possible

SANTA CLARA, Calif. -- Beyond the chance to practice against a different opponent and see how they measure up, this week's joint practices with the Denver Broncos also give the San Francisco 49ers a leg up in another area: roster building.

Though NFL teams always send pro scouts to preseason games all over the league to scour other rosters for potential additions after cut-down day, the joint practices offer a chance for those personnel departments to get in-person evaluations at the highest level.

In the case of the 49ers and Broncos, it gives general managers John Lynch and John Elway -- who, by the way, are close friends -- an opportunity to evaluate the other's roster for potential cuts and possible trades.

Lynch acknowledged after the first shared workout Wednesday that those conversations do take place in this type of setting.

"Well, that's going on in the league," Lynch said. "It's kind of that time of year, where people are calling and saying, 'Hey, you're strong here, we're strong here. Let's just kind of keep these things in mind.' And, this is a great opportunity to do that. So, we did have some of those discussions. The greatest thing is lots of times you're throwing in a preseason game. We get a chance for three days to look at some people we might be interested in. So, you're always doing that. I think they're doing that as well and it's another productive thing out of this week."

After 10 days of training camp, Lynch's staff and coach Kyle Shanahan's staff sat down for a personnel meeting to evaluate what's in place and what they might need moving forward. Those conversations are ongoing, but it's not too early to identify positions of strength and weakness.

For example, the 49ers look to have more capable players than they can keep on the defensive line with names such as Quinton Dial, Ronald Blair and others getting pushed for their jobs. The Broncos, meanwhile, have been ravaged by injury on the defensive line and could potentially use depth. San Francisco could use depth at cornerback and on the interior of the offensive line.

The 49ers also have multiple options at tight end that could leave someone with a solid NFL résumé on the outside looking in. Back in the spring, Shanahan and Lynch openly acknowledged that they had discussions about trading tight end Vance McDonald. Nothing materialized and McDonald has been making an impact in camp, though he still has issues with drops.

"I think what I've been thoroughly impressed with, as has Kyle and everybody around here, is how Vance has responded to that," Lynch said. "I thought last week against Kansas City was a great example. Even though it didn't show up on the stat sheet, it's as good as I've seen him block, and he did it consistently and he competed extremely hard. And so, we were very proud of Vance. Kyle talks a lot about that. There's no absolutes and at the time that's the way we were thinking, but he's come back and shown us all a lot. He's competing in a very competitive room. I think that's a room where someone is going to have to separate themselves. He's a big part of that. So, we're very pleased with him right now."

At this point, a deal might not be imminent but it's worth monitoring as we get closer to decision day on cuts to the 53-man roster.