49ers Blog and Q&A

News, notes and reader questions about the San Francisco 49ers

April 5, 2010
Donovan McNabb and the 49ers future

I'm in Washington, D.C. this week visiting family. I'd describe the mood here following Donovan McNabb's acquisition as "guarded glee." No one in Washington ever thought the trade would happen. They're looking at it the way you would if someone offered you a Porsche - albeit a slight used one - for $1,500. That is, they're searching for dents and dings and a reason why it came so cheap.

In my estimation, the Easter Day trade (it's a miracle!) leaves the Eagles a little weaker and the Redskins a little stronger. Kevin Kolb might be full of potential and might peak when DeSean Jackson and Jeremy Maclin reach the top of their games, but right now he lacks experience. He's an unknown.

Meanwhile, McNabb will be learning a new system, familiarizing himself with new teammates and operating behind a rickety offensive line. When a veteran quarterback changes teams, the biggest factor in whether he succeeds or fails is the talent around him. Kurt Warner as a New York Giant stunk. Give him Anquan Boldin and Larry Fitzgerald, and he's a hall of famer. Jay Cutler is great with Brandon Marshall, not so hot with Rashied Davis. McNabb ought to have plenty of motivation, but the Redskins have an awful lot of new and flimsy parts to think that they can become a force in the NFC overnight.

So how will this trade affect the draft? I don't think it will. As noted above, the Redskins' offensive line has been bad and beat up for a couple of years. They lost Chris Samuels, a six-time pro bowler, to retirement this past offseason. Michael Lombardi of National Football Post recently wrote that, generally speaking, a team needs three things to be successful: a good quarterback, a good pass rush and a good left tackle. Washington now has two of the three. I don't see a lot of changes at the top of the mock draft I did a month ago. If Oklahoma State's Russell Okung is still on the board, he goes to the Redskins.

I also now think Oklahoma's Trent Williams and Iowa's Bryan Bulaga will be picked in the top 10. That makes the X factor Rutgers' Anthony Davis, who visited the 49ers Thursday and Friday. If he drops to no. 13, the 49ers will have to ask themselves why he dropped. My sense is that, like Michael Crabtree last year, they take him if he's there.

As for McNabb, many writers and NFL observers wondered why the 49ers never entered the No. 5 sweepstakes. I think the overarching reason is that the Alex Smith experiment is five years in the making and, by golly, they're going to see it to the end. To state right now that they made a colossal mistake would be folly. But with Smith entering the final year of his contract, we ought to know the answer by January.

Draft questions? Roster questions? Questions about life? I'm listening ... Join me tomorrow for a noon chat. Go to www.sacbee.com/live to jump in.

-- Matt Barrows


Matt was born in Blacksburg, Va., and attended the University of Virginia. He graduated in 1995, went to Northwestern for a journalism degree a year later, and got his first job at a South Carolina daily in 1997. He joined The Bee as a Metro reporter in 1999 and started covering the 49ers in 2003. His favorite player of all time is Darrell Green.


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