Teams rarely trade good quarterbacks. However, back in 1993, the 49ers traded Joe Montana to the Chiefs after 14 seasons in the Bay Area. San Francisco then handed over the reigns to Steve Young, while Montana spent his final two years in the NFL with Kansas City and led the franchise to its first AFC Championship Game in January 1994.
That being said, Mike Sando, NFC West blogger for ESPN.com, believes any poker player could relate to the 49ers right now.
Former first-round pick Alex Smith represents "that once-promising hand" whose success last season is certainly reason for optimism. After being named the starting quarterback midway through the 2009 season, Smith stepped in and had the best 10-game stretch of his career, setting career highs in TDs (18), completion percentage (60.5) and QB rating (81.5). He finished last season with 18 touchdown passes and 12 interceptions.
But would the Niners be willing to part with that hand in favor of a proven commodity like Donovan McNabb?
With the landscape of the NFC West changing - Kurt Warner and Anquan Boldin out in Arizona; a new regime under Pete Carroll in Seattle and a rebuilding Rams team in St. Louis - the belief is that the division is there for the taking. San Francisco has playmakers in receiver Michael Crabtree, tight end Vernon Davis and running back Frank Gore. The Niners also boast a good defense.
So could a deal be struck between the Eagles and Niners? If so, at what cost?
Though the 49ers have two first-round choices in next month's draft, Sando wonders if the Niners could acquire McNabb from the Eagles for, say, a second-round choice in the 2010 draft?
Writes Sando: "The 49ers already have two first-round choices. They could draft the offensive tackle they need and still get a potential starter at another position. The Eagles already have an extra third-round choice. An additional second-rounder would leave them with five choices in the first three rounds, tied with the Browns for the most in the league.
"Let's look at this deal from an NFC West perspective. Would the Cardinals, Seahawks and Rams rather face the 49ers with McNabb or the 49ers with Smith and whichever player San Francisco drafted in the second round? I think they'd rather take their chances with Smith and the 2010 second-rounder.
"Some Eagles fans are tired of McNabb. They think Philadelphia has gotten as far as McNabb can take them. They're ready for a change. The 49ers can have no such complaints. They haven't been a playoff team since 2002. They would gladly 'settle' for multiple playoff appearances and a quarterback with a 92-49-1 (.651) regular-season starting record, according to Pro Football Reference."
Sando also points to Matt Williamson of Scouts Inc., who offered another idea for the 49ers relating to the ongoing conversation as to whether the team should pursue Donovan McNabb.
-- Posted by Bob Kent, 1:00 p.m., March 27