Scott Pioli said on the NFL Network tonight that he thought it was "possible" the 49ers could get a second- or third-round draft pick in exchange for Alex Smith. Pioli used the same rationale everyone else has in recent weeks -- Smith's recent success, other recent quarterback trades and the fact that the draft is thin on quarterbacks this year.
What makes Pioli's opinion noteworthy? He was an NFL general manager as recently as a month ago and he worked for the Chiefs, the team most cited in relation to Smith and a possible trade. Former Jets general manager Mike Tannenbaum, who was seated next to Pioli, concurred that a Smith trade was plausible. The Jets also could use an upgrade at the position.
Meanwhile, CBS Sports' Jason LaCanfora tweeted today that the 49ers have told other teams that a deal for Smith already is in hand. There were no other details. That's a bit hard to believe given that the 49ers can't formally move Smith until March 12, which is 16 days away.
The 49ers are not likely to lock themselves into a deal with so much time. In fact, they don't have to pay Smith his full salary until April 1, and Pioli speculated that they even could wait until training camp when other teams grow more desperate.
One scenario in which a deal for Smith makes sense on this, Feb. 24, is if Smith has been given a say in where he ends up and the 49ers' trade partner -- let's say, Kansas City -- is to his liking. General manager Trent Baalke said he had dinner with Smith and his wife, Elizabeth, after the Super Bowl. What do you think they talked about? Oscar favorites?
Back to Pioli. He, of course, is a former general manager, and wouldn't be plugged into the Chiefs' thinking. Then again, he of all people knows how bad Kansas City's quarterback situation is right now and is familiar with the caliber of passers available in the draft.
-- Matt Barrows