On Wednesday, business opens for the 2013 NFL season, and the 49ers figure to be one of the most active teams right off the bat. As I'm sure you've heard by now, they've already agreed to send Alex Smith to Kansas City, but it will finally become official after this weekend.
The Smith trade has been something that was in the works for apparently a few weeks before both teams agreed to the deal last week. Now, if you just scroll down to our previous post, when we talked a lot about the prospects of Smith being traded and what I was hoping to see in return if he was indeed dealt, you'll see that I'm completely satisfied with this deal. Alex Smith has started to show he can win in this league, and he's put up some decent numbers in the process the last few seasons. What he did with virtually no receiving help in 2011 was pretty impressive. While he's not an elite, top-10 QB, he's got a solid skill-set and has really developed into a smart player. He's going to finally give the Chiefs a QB that will not only help them compete, but one they may be able to build around a bit as he's just 28 years old and entering his prime. Had Smith left after the 2010 season as many expected he would, he would have gone down as one of the biggest blunders in not only 49ers draft history, but NFL draft history, as another top picked QB with huge expectations that never amounted to much. But instead, he helped lead the 49ers back to the place they're at and finally adapted to this level.
For all those qualities, the 49ers had to get something at least halfway decent in return, and they were able to do just that in landing the Chiefs 2nd rounder (pick 34 overall in next month's draft) as well as a conditional mid-round pick for the 2014 draft. I was hoping for at least a 3rd rounder, maybe high-end 4th or a serviceable defensive back in return, so seeing the pick they're getting is really what made this deal a big win for the 49ers. Would I have liked to see Brandon Flowers come over? Absolutely, Now they enter the draft with 15 picks and are in terrific position to move up at various points to grab a particular player they like should the situation present itself. Five of those fifteen are within the top 90 picks of the draft and that's ammo enough to be able to move up significantly in round one. The only question really at this point is what they'll use their first pick on and which player may have their eye as a possible option to move up for. Depending on what happens with DaShon Goldson, the 49ers could have a huge hole in center field that would become priority number one. They also really could use a young shut-down corner too, and then there's the D-line that needs to be addressed as well.
Finally, besides putting the 49ers in a much more optimal draft position, the Alex Smith trade frees up $8.5 million that would have went towards their 2013 cap. I mean, that's a legit amount of money and it's a reason why the 49ers will be able to enter Darrelle Revis talks should they so choose. So, for a player the 49ers would have probably been forced to cut anyway this spring, they free up that large chunk of cap space to be able to put towards a potential top of the line free agents, and get themselves a draft pick that just barely missed the first round. Now, it remains to be seen what the 49ers turn that $8.5M and high-end 2nd rounder, but at this point, I trust Harbough and Co. have a good idea of what they want to do. I have to give the Niners an A for this deal. At the same time, it's a nice deal for KC as well, who get themselves a proven QB who's shown he can win and help lead a team from the outhouse to the penthouse. Starting QB's don't just grow on trees these days in the NFL, and the Chiefs managed to get themselves a pretty good one for a pick that may never end up amounting to anything. Really a win-win for both teams.
We'll talk more about how the 49ers replace Smith and some of the potential options they could see come draft day in April, but we also have March Madness kicking off and that will be heating up in the coming weeks. Needless to say, between Madness, the Draft, NBA playoffs (which the Warriors are in the picture for) and the start of the MLB season around the corner, it's really a sports fan's paradise this time of year. In order to keep a pulse on all of it, we'll probably be doing a lot of mixed posts over the next few weeks were we dabble into a few different topics. Get ready for a wild next few weeks, sports fans!