While entrenched with the San Francisco 49ers during the NFL Draft, Peter King of SI.com’s MMQB unearthed the behind-the-scenes happenings that led to their trade with the Chicago Bears, yielding quarterback Mitch Trubisky as the second overall pick.
And at first glance, it’s not a good look for the Bears, because it confirms the 49ers were definitely not going to take Trubisky, and it’s not quite clear how interested any other teams were in trading up to do the same.
The 49ers’ board had Myles Garrett, Solomon Thomas, and Reuben Foster (that’s a bit of a surprise) at the top, and figured any team wanting to move up to the second spot would do so to grab Thomas. According to King’s first-hand accounts, there was outside interest from teams wanting to trade with the 49ers to get to the second pick. However, King couldn’t put a finger on which teams were doing so and what player each was targeting with the pick. And yet, despite being only one spot behind San Francisco, it was Chicago that seemed most willing to part ways with the necessary picks to convince first-year general manager John Lynch to pull the trigger on a deal. Adding the fourth rounder in 2018 is what sealed the deal.
It appears as if the Bears knew the 49ers weren’t going to be the team taking Trubisky second. Especially when front office executive Paraag Marathe told Lynch and head coach Kyle Shanahan: “He (Pace) said, ‘I think you guys are going to be comfortable with what we do.’ So I don’t know what that is.” The Bears knew they weren’t negotiating against the 49ers for Trubisky, but instead, they were going against other teams who wanted that pick. To what extent those teams wanted the pick, however, the Bears simply couldn’t have known. Of course, they could have had an idea based on conversations they were having with teams tying to move into the third spot.
In hindsight, tacking on a 2018 fourth-round pick to close the deal is unfortunate now that we know it’s quite possible the Bears didn’t need to make a trade at all.
Even still, King believes the Bears didn’t pay that much of a king’s ransom to move up one spot. King dug into the archives and compared what the Bears offered up to jump up a spot to take Trubisky with what the San Diego Chargers traded to move up from the third spot to get the second choice in the 1998 draft.
To refresh everyone’s memory, San Diego traded the No. 3 overall pick, a second-round (33rd overall) selection, a first-round pick in the 1999 draft, kick return ace/wide receiver Eric Metcalf, and linebacker Patrick Sapp.
On paper, it was a coup for the Arizona Cardinals, as they acquired an additional second-round pick, a first-rounder (which turned out to be the eighth overall selection and was used on Ohio State receiver David Boston), a 25-year-old former second-round pick in Sapp who started nine games the year before, and a Pro Bowl kick return ace in Metcalf. Unfortunately for Arizona, the trade didn’t work out all that well because the No. 3 pick turned out to be noted draft bust Andre Wadsworth, leaving Michigan cornerback Charles Woodson (fourth overall), Marshall receiver Randy Moss (21st overall) and a slew of other productive first-round picks on the board.
The cost of doing business with San Diego was 1,980 points according to the draft-trade value chart used by NFL teams.
Comparatively speaking, the Bears paid only 580 points to slide into a spot that guaranteed them a chance at taking Trubisky. Further, the Bears were the only team who traded up in the first round to take a quarterback that didn’t have to pony up its 2018 first-round pick. So from that perspective, that’s a win for a Bears team that projects to be picking in the top five again in 2018.
The depth and perspective King’s first-hand account of what was going on in the 49ers’ draft room offers up is unlike anything else you’ll see and counts as a must-read for your post-draft Monday.