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Chiefs-Niners trade opens up options

2/27/2013
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NFL Live OT: Good Move For Both Teams

Tedy Bruschi and Herm Edwards say both Kansas City and San Francisco benefit from the Alex Smith trade.

The trade that sent quarterback Alex Smith from San Francisco to Kansas City looks like a win-win for both teams, both from a personnel standpoint and in terms of draft plans.

The Chiefs have filled their biggest need and relieved themselves of the pressure to reach for a quarterback with the No. 1 overall pick in the 2013 draft, while the 49ers removed a potential distraction behind starter Colin Kaepernick and continue to stockpile 2013 picks (currently five in the top 93 overall).

Kansas City fans might be a little worried after being burned by the Matt Cassel trade, but as long as the Chiefs don't commit a long-term deal to Smith and view him as the bridge to their future franchise quarterback, there doesn't seem to be much to worry about.

Besides, would you rather make a big reach for West Virginia's Geno Smith with the No. 1 overall pick, or use the 34th overall pick to get a veteran with playoff experience? (What this means for Smith and the rest of the 2013 quarterback class is a whole other conversation.)

So where might they go with the top pick in April? There are plenty of possibilities.

Texas A&M OT Luke Joeckel is the No. 1 player on our board right now, and if the Chiefs don't re-sign free-agent OT Branden Albert, then Joeckel will definitely be in play. He has ample experience at the highest level of college football and would be ready to step in immediately at left tackle.

If Albert returns and Kansas City goes in another direction, bolstering the defense is a distinct possibility. Utah DT Star Lotulelei would fit at end in the Chiefs' 3-4 scheme -- assuming the heart condition that got him flagged at the combine isn't a long-term issue -- and while Florida's Sharrif Floyd has loads of talent, he's a better fit inside than as a 5-technique (DE) in that scheme.

And while Kansas City needs to add size at cornerback, the top overall pick is a little rich for Alabama CB Dee Milliner, or any corner for that matter. A trade down from No. 1 doesn't seem to be in the cards, either, because there is no star player other teams are clamoring for, and the Chiefs would have little leverage in any trade talks. Teams are not going to trade into the top spot for a top-shelf defensive lineman or pass-rusher this year, because there are so many available.

The biggest hole on Kansas City's roster has been filled and that pressure is off, but the Chiefs' plans at No. 1 haven't gotten much clearer. However, now the Chiefs have a chance to assess the recent NFL combine, see how their free-agency plans and others around the league pan out and formulate their board based on need and value. They are clearly in a better spot than they were before the trade.

As for the Niners, they are now armed with enough 2013 draft picks to do just about anything they want over the next two months.

Their first two picks will be Nos. 31 and 34 overall, and this year's class is very deep in that range.

Our colleague Todd McShay had San Francisco taking Tennessee WR Justin Hunter with the 31st pick in his most recent mock draft, and that makes plenty of sense. With Randy Moss and Ted Ginn set to hit free agency, and Mario Manningham coming off a season-ending knee injury, the 49ers could use a downfield weapon on the outside to take advantage of QB Colin Kaepernick's strong arm.

Hunter has had some inconsistency in terms of his hands, but he's a smooth athlete who's coming off a monster performance at the NFL combine, and he would certainly fit well in head coach Jim Harbaugh's offense.

Tight end has also been identified as a need for the Niners, which would put Stanford's Zach Ertz, Notre Dame's Tyler Eifert or San Diego State's Gavin Escobar in the mix at No. 34. Yes, Vernon Davis is a star, but both Eifert and Escobar have the size to become effective every-down tight ends and are already playmakers in the passing game. Having the ability to go to two-tight end sets that create mismatches and play-action opportunities is surely something Harbaugh would like.

Defensive line help might also be in play in the second round, either at No. 34 or later at No. 61. UCLA DE Datone Jones is rising after a strong Senior Bowl week, and Ohio State DT Johnathan Hankins is sliding a bit but could still offer interior help. Alabama's Jesse Williams and Georgia's Johnathan Jenkins -- a massive plugger who has shown a little more quickness and range on film than we initially thought -- could also be options up front, though if they want Jenkins it might have to be at 31.

And with 49ers S Dashon Goldson also slated for free agency, prospects like Florida's Matt Elam and LSU's Eric Reid might also be in the mix at some point in the second round. In the third round, they could consider the likes of South Carolina's D.J. Swearinger or FIU's John Cyprien, who has created some buzz during the predraft process.

Corner could also be a concern after Chris Culliver was exposed a bit in the Super Bowl, which could mean someone like Connecticut's Blidi Wreh-Wilson late in the first, or Washington's Desmond Trufant or Boise State's Jamar Taylor a little further down the line.

Finally, don't rule out a right guard to further bolster an already-strong running game. In that case, a mauler like Kentucky's Larry Warford would make sense.

The upshot here is that San Francisco has positioned itself to do just about anything it wants in terms of the draft. And with so many picks at their disposal, the Niners might also be able to consider going after someone like New York Jets CB Darrelle Revis or Minnesota Vikings WR Percy Harvin via trade.

All this is just one more example of how well the 49ers have handled the draft recently. Using a 2011 second-round pick on Kaepernick was questioned at the time, but it's ended up working out as well as anyone in San Francisco could have hoped. The Niners are in a great position to take full advantage of a 2013 class that is deep at every position other than quarterback.