SANTA CLARA — Joe Montana. Alex Smith. Dee Ford.
Every so often in 49ers history, a trade happens with the Kansas City Chiefs for a marquee player. The latest is a deal for pass rusher Dee Ford, and that can become official when the league year starts at 1 p.m. Wednesday.
How does it stack up to others, at least in terms of magnitude? This could work out as the best. Let’s look:
1. Farewell, Joe Montana. The 49ers’ most cherished player sought the Chiefs as his destination after years of the NFL’s most legendary QB controversy with Steve Young. Montana was a 36-year-old, four-time Super Bowl winner when the 49ers packaged him, safety David Whitmore and a 1994 third-round pick to the Chiefs for the 18th overall pick in 1993, which they converted into defensive tackle Dana Stubblefield.
2. Alex Smith windfall. A pair of second-round draft picks (in 2013 and ’14) is what the 49ers got for Smith, who went from Colin Kaepernick’s Super Bowl backup to the Chiefs’ division-winning leader (and Patrick Mahomes’ mentor). The 49ers parlayed those draft picks into other deals that ultimately brought them defensive tackle Tank Carradine, running backs Carlos Hyde and Mike Davis, and linebackers Chris Borland and Corey Lemonier.
3. Hello, Dee Ford. All it took was a 2020 second-round pick – and a five-year, $85 million contract – for the 49ers to procure the Chiefs’ franchise-tagged pass rusher. Ford had a career-high 13 sacks in his contract year. He told Yahoo Sports upon the trade Tuesday night: “I’m gonna be like a Ferrari but with an 18-wheeler’s force.” That fits general manager John Lynch’s desire for his pass rushers to “cut it loose” but with power.
4. Bono joins pipeline. A year after Montana’s deal to the Chiefs, Steve Bono headed there, too. Bono spent three seasons with the Chiefs, including a 13-3 effort in 1995 that culminated in a one-and-done playoff cameo. Bono would be replaced by another ex-49er, Elvis Grbac, who signed as a free agent in 1997 and went 8-2 that year en route to the playoffs. The 49ers, in return for Bono, got a 1995 fifth-round pick, which they used in a package to move up for J.J. Stokes at No. 10 overall.
5. First-round flops. A.J. Jenkins, drafted No. 30 overall in 2012, caught no passes his rookie year and got shipped before his second season to the Chiefs. In return,, the 49ers got the Chiefs’ mirror version, Jonathan Baldwin, a 2011 first-round draft pick who produced only three catches in seven games for the 2013 Niners.
Extra points: Two trades in 2016 with the Chiefs still have a bearing on the current 49ers. First, they dealt cornerback Kenneth Acker to Kansas City in return for a 2018 seventh-round pick, which produced wide receiver and return specialist Richie James Jr. Later, the 49ers (under then-general manager Trent Baalke) sent a 2019 seventh-round pick to the Chiefs for wide receiver Rod Streeter.
Other players the 49ers acquired in trades before becoming a Super Bowl winner: Kick returner Noland Smith, 1969 (for 1970 third-round pick), wide receiver Robert West, 1974 (for 1975 sixth-round pick), cornerback Nate Allen, 1975 (for guard Randy Belser and Saints 1976 third-round pick) and safety Tim Gray, 1979 (for 1980 ninth-round pick).