Credit Smith: Teams covet quarterbacks, but they haven't been shelling out huge money for unproven ones since the Kevin Kolb deal in Arizona. Matt Flynngot far less last offseason, for example. The success Smith has enjoyed the past two seasons, particularly in 2012, made him more appealing than the typical quarterback to hit the trade market. The 49ers went 19-5-1 with Smith starting over the past two seasons. Go ahead and credit the 49ers' coaching staff, but also realize the Chiefs' staff, led by Andy Reid, knows a little about quarterbacks, as well.
Alex Smith 3-year Starting Glance
Weak draft: Draft analysts have been lamenting the absence of top quarterback prospects in the 2013 draft. The Chiefs, with the first overall choice, might agree. They could still draft a quarterback early, but moving to acquire Smith right after the combine affirms perceptions about the quarterbacks in the next rookie class and their readiness.
Compensation: Initial reports suggest the 49ers are getting the 34th overall choice and a 2014 conditional pick from Kansas City. That would be an outstanding deal from the 49ers' perspective. Is that the full deal? We do not know whether the Chiefs were able to get any draft compensation back from San Francisco. The fact that Kansas City picks so high in the second round enhances the value for San Francisco, which also picks 31st. Stay tuned.
Cap savings: This trade means the 49ers will not have to pay a $1 million bonus or $7.5 million salary to Smith for 2013. His projected $8.5 million cap number for 2013 vanishes from the books. That should give the 49ers greater flexibility to sign other players. Of course, San Francisco is now in the market for a backup quarterback, but even a veteran will cost much less than Smith was going to cost. Starter Colin Kaepernick's contract counts $1.4 million against the cap, far below average even for backups.
Not on schedule: The 49ers do not play the Chiefs this season. The Chiefs do not play any NFC West teams. Kansas City's opponents comprise the other AFC West teams, plus Houston, Indianapolis, Dallas, the New York Giants, Cleveland, Jacksonville, Tennessee, Philadelphia, Washington and Buffalo.
Chiefs on speed dial: It's been a while since the 49ers and Chiefs collaborated on quarterback trades involving Joe Montana and Steve Bono. Still, we can add Smith's name to the list of quarterbacks San Francisco has traded to Kansas City.
The right thing: The 49ers, of course, had to look out for their own interests in dealing Smith. Still, it's good to see them trading him to a team with a solid offensive-minded coach, an established running back, potential on the offensive line and (if re-signed) a top receiver in Dwayne Bowe. Smith is falling into a relatively favorable situation. That should feel right for the 49ers, who clearly appreciated what Smith had given to the organization.
No Arizona: News broke this week that Arizona was also interested in Smith. The 49ers weren't going to make a deal in the division, most likely. The Cardinals knew that. They weren't counting on Smith. Their search for quarterback answers continues.