Loaded up on draft picks, 49ers could have big moves ahead
"The San Francisco 49ers are now on the clock."
Get ready to hear that phrase a lot. Well, either that or, "The San Francisco 49ers have traded multiple draft picks for ... "
Whatever the eventual outcome may be, Wednesday's reported trade, which will send QB Alex Smith to Kansas City, feels a lot closer to the beginning of San Francisco's offseason wheeling and dealing than the end.
Expected to head the 49ers' way in exchange for Smith: a 2013 second-round pick (No. 34 overall) and "similar" compensation (believed to be a conditional third-rounder) in 2014, according to the Mercury News' Tim Kawakami. The former selection bumps the current number of 49ers' selections in the upcoming draft to a dozen, with three more expected via compensatory picks.
The defending NFC champions, with one of football's most exciting players at quarterback, sitting in possession of 15 draft picks? Look out.
Of those 15 picks, five are within the top 93 slots -- one in the first round, two in the second and two more in the third. The options, then, are numerous for the 49ers.
They could stay put, stockpile draft choices and provide depth for their nucleus for years to come. They also could swing some of those extra picks into future years, as they'd no doubt find some suitors for mid-round selections during the deep 2013 draft.
Or, and here's the big one, they might be able to bundle several picks together and make a run at some dangling trade bait like, say, Jets cornerback Darrelle Revis. Minnesota's Percy Harvin also fits into the blockbuster trade hypothetical.
Given their bevy of riches, both currently on the roster and in relation to the 2013 draft, the 49ers would be doing themselves a disservice if they did not try to parlay this Smith trade into even more. Already, the deal has to be considered a success -- swinging a $7.5 million backup into at least one, and potentially two, second-round draft picks is a massive boon for the franchise.
San Francisco probably held a spot on the Jets' Revis trade radar before this. As of March 12, when the Smith move can become official, the 49ers will have greater financial flexibility and added ammo for such a transaction.
This all is awful news, of course, for the rest of the 49ers' division and the NFC as a whole. San Francisco has won back-to-back division titles with two different quarterbacks. Colin Kaepernick's emergence in the middle of 2012 simply added steam to a train that's threatening to run away from the competition.
Add five of the draft's top 100 players or an elite talent like Revis to the mix, and the 49ers will be favored against just about every foe next season. The 49ers fell just shy of a Super Bowl berth two years ago and was merely a few yards away from hoisting the Vince Lombardi Trophy this February. Sending Smith to Kansas City only moves them closer to getting over the top.