Moving on best for both sides

The 49ers would have liked a first-round draft pick in exchange for ridding themselves of a paradoxical package named Terrell Owens. But, "the reality of it all is that there wasn't a lot of activity on the market," GM Terry Donahue said Thursday. After an opportunity to get something substantial instead of nothing for Owens fell into their laps last week, the Niners shopped the three-time All-Pro around the league, then didn't waste time getting a deal done once the highest bidder stepped up.

After the shenanigans of the past two months, the Niners were happy to get the 51st overall pick in the draft from the Baltimore Ravens for Owens. They were just as happy to see Owens go, not to mention having a say where he went.

Donahue made it clear that even with the fortuitous circumstances that kept Owens chained to his current contract with the Niners, which was to run for three more years, there was no way he was going to return to the team.

"I just think that there has been too much water under the bridge for both sides," Donahue said. "It was just best for T.O. that he moved on and best for us that we move on. I think most of this has been pretty well documented, and we sincerely wish him well. He is a great player, a four-time Pro Bowl player, and at the same time we are excited to be able to get a young player that we can develop and turn into the kind of player that we want in the organization."

Owens obviously wasn't one of those anymore. The Niners were prepared to let him walk in free agency with the possibility of no compensation, though they might have received a third-round compensatory pick from the league, depending upon their own gains this year in free agency. The second-rounder was a bonus, particularly after Donahue realized it wasn't going to be a seller's market on Owens after the way he had denounced the 49ers and certain teammates since the season had ended with the expectancy he was headed for free agency.

When asked why there wasn't more of a market for a stud like Owens, who obviously would be comparable to a first-round talent, Donahue responded, "I think that I will leave that up to you. I don't need to explain it. There just wasn't much of a market. We contacted half the teams in the football league and this was by far the best opportunity that we had, and we were happy with it. We jumped on it as soon as we could."

The Niners were crouched and ready to spring from the moment the trading period began Wednesday. While talk of an Owens grievance and compromises with the league loomed over the situation, the Niners moved forward to dump Owens as soon as a reasonable bargain came along. And why not? It gives them considerably more flexibility in the draft, creates cap space for the team this season and takes Owens off the books for future years.

It's nice to imagine that the Niners could have somehow worked it out for Owens to stay in San Francisco after the snafu by Owens' agent, but that was never going to happen. He was history, one way or another.

The 49ers opted for the fastest route out of town, which was what Owens deserved, and allowed the team to move on to more pressing issues. It also allowed the Niners to leave behind the Owens saga on their terms, with them - unexpectedly - having the final say on the matter.

"We are very pleased with the way this worked out for us," Donahue said. "We wanted to get this deal done quickly. I think that it was in everybody's best interest, everybody's. It was certainly in the best interest of the league, the union, the player, the club, us. It was in everybody's best interest to get something done and let everybody move on. In this case, I think that everybody has moved on."

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