With nearly two weeks to go before it can be official, reports have begun to pour in that an Alex Smith-to-Kansas City trade is complete and that the 49ers will get multiple draft picks in return for the quarterback.
The speculation for the last month has been that the Chiefs would be a strong contender for Smith, and FOX Sports' Jay Glazer reported Wednesday that is where Smith will end up. Meanwhile, Tim Kawakami of The Mercury News reported that the expected compensation for Smith is significant: The 49ers will get Kansas City's second-round pick this year (34th overall) and a conditional pick in 2014. That pick currently is a third-round pick that could improve to a second if the Chiefs' win total in 2013 reached a certain threshold.
That's far more than what most observers were expecting for Smith, who began the 2012 season as the 49ers starting quarterback but lost his job to Colin Kaepernick after suffering a concussion Nov. 11. Smith reportedly drew interest from Chiefs coach Andy Reid last year when he was a free agent and Reid was the coach of the Eagles.
A 49ers source cautioned that the reports are "premature" given that a deal can't be official until March 12. Arizona, for instance, also has expressed interest in Smith. But it's very hard to see another team beating the Chiefs' offer. Kansas City's commitment also indicates that Smith is on board with the move. Smith and his wife, Elizabeth, recently had dinner with general manager Trent Baalke to discuss possible moves.
Once the trade is complete, the 49ers will have five, top-100 picks in the draft: Nos. 31, 34, 61, 74, and 93. In addition, they are expecting either a third- or a fourth-round pick as compensation next month for losing receiver Josh Morgan in free agency last year.
With this trade, the 49ers expect to have 15 total picks in the upcoming draft. That's plenty of ammunition to move up in the first round and target a player -- perhaps a defensive lineman -- they covet. It also will remove Smith's $8.5 million salary from the books for the upcoming season.
That's one of the reasons the 49ers had to move Smith. The other is that keeping him as a backup to Kaepernick would have been unpopular in the 49ers locker room. Indeed, several 49ers were quick to tweet their support of the unofficial trade:
Wrote safety Donte Whitner: "Good luck to Mr. Alex Smith. I know you'll do great under Andy Reid in KC. The ultimate pro!"
Added left tackle Joe Staley, perhaps Smith's best friend on the team: "Best of luck to Alex in KC. Amazing teammate, friend, and person. I know he will do great things there."
-- Matt Barrows