Trading Places: Chiefs, 49ers Swap Former First Round Wide Outs

Posted: August 19, 2013 in NFL, Sports
Tags: , , , , , , ,

In a bit of a head scratching move the 49ers have traded wide receiver AJ Jenkins for Chiefs wide receiver Jon Baldwin. Jenkins has struggled to gain a foothold in a surprisingly crowded group of receivers in San Francisco. Baldwin on the other hand seemed set to start opposite Dwayne Bowe in the Chiefs line-up, but the 3rd year receiver has struggled with drops and clearly failed to impress new coach Andy Reid.

While at first glance this deal seems to favor the 49ers (who also looked like early winners in the Alex Smith trade with these same Chiefs) I think it’s a matter of addressing a need for both teams. I have a draft saved of a post that called out the 49ers on having too many receivers that seemed to fit the same role. Perhaps I’m painting with too broad a brush but Jenkins, Manningham, and even Kyle Williams all struck me as slight variations of the same guy: good speed, good hands, some positional versatility, but lacking elite size and not true #1 talents. Jenkins was the least developed and with Williams recovered and Manningham progressing on schedule Jenkins was a spare part. Not to mention I think the coaching staff has been impressed with Chad Hall, who can also contribute on special teams.

Here’s a breakdown of each guys measurables from their NFL combine performances:

Jenkins
Height: 6’0
Weight: 192lbs
40 yard dash: 4.39 sec.
Vertical: 38.5 in.
Hand size: 9 1/2in.
Pick: 30th Overall (2012)

Baldwin
Height: 6’4
Weight: 230lbs
40 yard: 4.50 sec.
Vertical: 42 in.
Hands: 10 1/8
Pick: 26th overall (20110

By adding Baldwin the 49ers get a guy who can be a huge red zone threat given his height and leaping ability. He’s not a fluid route runner, but the 49ers have plenty of those and likely envision Baldwin as more of a deep threat (something else they have been in dire need of) anyway. The 49ers also have Anquan Boldin to act as a mentor to the young receiver and hopefully help him harness some of that raw ability. San Francisco also has the ability to bring Baldwin along slowly this year if need be, something the Chiefs never really were able to do. Ultimately what it comes down to is Baldwin no longer fit the Chiefs offense, and the drops made him a liability in Andy Reid’s high efficiency West Coast attack. It just so happened however that he was exactly the type of receiver the 49ers have been looking for, a big target for Kaepernick to target deep and in the endzone.

And while you might not know it from gut reaction of some fans, this trade should work out equally well for the Chiefs. Jenkins is smaller, but a more fluid route runner. He struggled to break through in San Francisco, but I can’t help but think that was largely due to his aforementioned lack of ability to contribute on special teams and the overload of receivers with similar skill sets and more experience. It’s also worth mentioning that Chiefs QB Alex Smith, spent last season with Jenkins and likely became more familiar with the young receiver after losing the starting QB job to Colin Kaepernick midway through last season. It’s hard to imagine that the Chiefs didn’t at least run the trade by Smith given his prior knowledge of the second year wide receiver. It seems possible that Smith and Jenkins clicked in practice and Jenkins just failed to catch on the same way with any of the other QBs.

Bottom Line: This trade was all about acquiring players who better fit each teams scheme, and honestly could pay huge dividends on both sides, or end with both players out of work by this time next year, only time will tell.

Fantasy Impact: Minimal. Jenkins gains sleeper status if he can prove he’s got chemistry with Alex Smith, but unless he’s a starter it’s hard to expect much and even then WR is deep this year. Baldwin faces about the same deal. His value drops as he was mostly assumed to be a starter in KC, but likely won’t be higher than #4 in SF unless he really impresses them in the next few weeks. If Baldwin does, somehow find himself starting in San Francisco his size and speed make him very appealing, but until then his ceiling is having a few big games where he catches a deep touchdown.

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