49ers Have Struck Gold Before in Trades
By Peter Fournier
The San Francisco 49ers have completed many big trades and transactions over the years. Some rattled the foundation of the franchise, while others have pushed it ahead. Let’s take a look at some of the better and worse ones since 1990.
The Bad » Signing Nate Clements to a mega-deal
When Clements signed an eight-year, $80 million contract many expected him to be the ultimate shutdown corner. Instead, he was constantly being outrun by elite wide receivers and ending up on the bad end of SportsCenter highlight reels. Clements was released from his mega-contract in 2011, but 49ers GM Trent Baalke expressed interest in having him back. Baalke told a group of reporters at a post-draft video session that it would be up to Clements if he wanted to stay a 49er.
» How did it play out? Clements went to Cincinnati — and the 49ers went to two straight NFC championship games.
The Bad » Mike Singletary hired as head coach
Singletary had a superb way of firing up players before games, motivating them unlike any other coach, but that was about it. He couldn't coach the game of football. Players will only listen to motivation for so long until they tune it out. His hiring appeared great at first, but he dumped offensive coordinator Mike Martz and hired Jimmy Raye in his place, a move that set the offense back.
» How did it play out? Singletary is the linebackers coach in Minnesota and he has interviewed for numerous defensive coordinator positions around the league since. He’s improving as a coach, and that’s a good thing to see.
Not quite good, not quite bad » Drafting Alex Smith
Mike Nolan needed a quarterback, but was not an offensive genius. Drafting Smith over Aaron Rodgers and any other player in the 2005 NFL draft appeared to be the way to go. However, Smith’s first offensive coordinator, Mike McCarthy, left after one season to coach the Green Bay Packers. Smith was left with a revolving door at offensive coorrdinator for years — until Jim Harbaugh was hired. The success he achieved under Harbaugh showed that Smith needed stability to succeed at the NFL level, but Harbaugh had already hand-picked his future quarterback before Smith even took one snap.
» How did it play out? Smith is now the back-up quarterback. He will likely be traded to a team in need of a decent starter.
The Good » Trading draft picks to grab Colin Kaepernick
This is the best move of the Baalke/Harbaugh era. Kaepernick has thrived in Harbaugh’s offense, which the coach has modified for the second-year quarterback. The first-time starter has shown veteran tendencies, knowing when to use his elusive legs on scrambles, but he’s also shown growing pains. It’ll be interesting to see how much better of a passer Kaepernick can be in his second year as a starter.
» How did it play out? Kaepernick led the team to the Super Bowl in his first season as a part-time starter. What can he do with a full 16-game schedule? Stay tuned.
The Best » Trading Joe Montana
With Steve Young showing promise, the 49ers needed to move and trading Montana for draft picks was the best move they could make in 1993. Montana had accomplished almost everything he possibly could have with the 49ers, including four Super Bowls, three Super Bowl MVPs and establishing one of the most successful quarterback-wide receiver tandems in NFL history. Montana finished his career in Kansas City on a quiet note, and Young won the 49ers their fifth Super Bowl.
» How did it play out? The 49ers used the draft pick they received from the Chiefs to draft Dana Stubblefield. Safe to say, San Francisco got the better end of that deal.