Finally, it’s official. Well, not really, because the NFL does not allow for trades until the opening of the 2013 season (March 12), but NFL Insider Jay Glazer has reported via Twitter that the San Francisco 49ers will in fact deal Alex Smith to the QB-needy Kansas City Chiefs.
The Chiefs, who will now be led by head coach Andy Reid, will part ways with former starter Matt Cassel, and are apparently making a commitment to Smith, the former No. 1 overall pick in the 2005 NFL draft.
Reid, though possibly not to the extent of Jim Harbaugh, is a quarterback specialist and must feel confident he can help Smith thrive in KC much like he has over the past two seasons in San Francisco.
It is currently unclear what exactly the Niners will be receiving as compensation for Smith, but according to Glazer, San Fran may have just locked down the 34th overall pick, the Chiefs only second-round selection. San Fran is already expected to be equipped with 14 picks come draft weekend, and getting more in return for Smith will allow them to be even more aggressive in moving around to select prospects they covet.
This is a draft where the 49ers should, just like they did in 2012, be searching for depth and future starters. But, there are question marks at a couple of positions that may require immediate help depending on how free agency plays out.
Dashon Goldson and Isaac Sopoaga are hitting the open market, and losing one or both could result in the Niners searching for a new starter at free safety or nose tackle, respectively.
There are some talented prospects at those positions, first-round caliber talent. SF has the 31st overall pick in the first round, so many of them will be off the board when the 49ers are on the clock.
Adding a pick or two for Smith could provide even more ammo to slide up in the first and nab a DT like John Jenkins or a safety like Kenny Vaccaro. Maybe even Star Lotulelei (DT), depending on how far his draft stock falls after being red flagged for health issues at the combine.
This story still has some unraveling to do, but it should provide comfort to the 49ers faithful knowing Smith has found a home where he can continue his NFL career as a starter, and the team will receive compensation in return rather than simply releasing the eight-year veteran.