The 49ers started February with a disappointing loss in the Super Bowl.
They’ve ended the month with a victory that could pay dividends for years to come.
Now many NFL analysts are predicting that San Francisco is setting itself up for not only a return to the Super Bowl, but the possibility of playing in multiple Super Bowls.
Consider: The reported trade of backup quarterback Alex Smith to the Chiefs – which can’t be officially completed until March 12 – will net the Niners Kansas City’s second-round pick in April (the 34th overall) plus a potentially high conditional pick in 2014. San Francisco is now heading toward the 2013 draft with 15 picks, including five of the first 93 slots.
Consider: Smith’s trade not only is a plus for its draft return, but it will free room under the salary cap for greater flexibility this offseason.
Consider: The team has a dynamic young quarterback in Colin Kaepernick, one of the best offensive lines in football, proven front-office and coaching leadership and a new stadium on the horizon that should put the franchise in an excellent financial situation for the long term.
Jeff Darlington of NFL.com wrote Wednesday that the deal with the Chiefs for Smith puts the team in perfect position for the future.
“A new stadium isn’t the only big thing they’re building in Santa Clara,” he wrote of the 49ers. “Now, with two more draft picks … the 49ers can continue construction on a dynasty. This is a team that has made smart moves for several years. Adding to that arsenal will only make San Francisco a more likely contender to become the NFL’s most dangerous team for at least the next five seasons.”
Chris Burke of Sports Illustrated writes that the 49ers now have stockpiled so many draft choices they can be very aggressive this offseason, trading them to move up to take a player they want, dealing them for future picks or using them in a trade to get a difference-maker, such as Jets cornerback Darrelle Revis – considered the best in the league – or wide receiver Percy Harvin of the Vikings.
“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,” wrote Burke. “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.”
Of course, there are no guarantees. Injuries and bad luck and age and dissension can raise their heads at any time; bad choices in the draft can make even a bevy of picks worthless; and the rest of the teams in the NFL – and NFC West, too – aren't standing pat.
But as the Niners enter March, San Francisco is sitting pretty.
“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,” wrote Burke. “The 49ers fell just shy of a Super Bowl berth two years ago and were 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.”