The San Francisco 49ers have been making mostly great decisions in terms of their personnel over the last few years, building a Super Bowl contender. Their biggest move last season was trading Alex Smith to the Kansas City Chiefs for a package of trade picks. While Smith is doing well with his new team, it might be safe to say the Niners came out very happy from their haul in this deal.
The Chiefs gave the 49ers two draft picks for someone who was basically a backup quarterback at that point: Despite doing well as a starter under Jim Harbaugh, the 49ers have made their choice: Colin Kaepernick as the full-time starter under center, and Smith being too expensive or frustrated to remain a backup.
So what did the 49ers get? A second round draft pick in 2013, and a conditional pick in 2014 that turned into a second round pick as well. The Chiefs won more than eight games during Andy Reid’s first season, giving Smith plenty of credit in running the offense, leading the team into the postseason, mostly carried by their fantastic defense and extremely soft schedule.
Harbaugh and his general manager Trent Baalke don’t get along all that well, but Harbaugh is probably happy with the decisions Baalke has made when it comes to the picks from the Smith deal. He has traded down, which statistically is always the smarter thing to do, which has resulted in the following crop:
– DE Tank Carradine, 2013 second round
– LB Corey Lemonier, 2013 third round
– LB Chris Borland, 2014 third round
– RB Carlos Hyde, 2014 second round
– WR Stevie Johnson, trade from Buffalo
The 49ers aren’t a team that rushes anyone into anything, and it usually means rookies hardly get to play. This team is about winning now and they have plenty of talent and experience at almost every position, which means development is the focus for the young players. Stevie Johnson is probably the only one who’ll be contributing meaningfully in 2014 being a three-time 1000 yard receiver, but Carlos Hyde has the potential and the style to thrive behind Frank Gore, while Carradine, Lemonier and Borland will probably be very good players in a season or two.
The Chiefs aren’t coming out of this hurt. They got a quarterback that fits their offensive system and has matured vastly since his early days in the Bay area which were very rough for him. He isn’t a superstar and needs a solid team around him to shine, but considering he was never going to start against for the 49ers, things couldn’t have turned out any better for him than the way they did.