Analysing the Kansas City Chiefs 'trade' for Quarterback Alex Smith

Alex Smith 49ers

New Kansas City Chiefs head coach Andy Reid has finally found his quarterback after trading for San Francisco 49ers backup Alex Smith.

That's according to reports from NFL.com, that state a deal is complete, but won't be announced until March 12th.

It's a bold move from Reid and new general manager John Dorsey. They certainly need a quarterback to start their rebuild in Kansas City. The 2-14 Chiefs were blighted by abysmal play under center.

Matt Cassel and Brady Quinn combined for one calamity after another. But the question is, how much of an upgrade is Smith?

After all, this is the player who has largely been a bust since being selected first overall in the 2005 draft. He's probably lost count of the number of offensive coordinators he's played for in San Francisco.

Only a small fraction of those coordinators managed to get the best from Smith. Under Jim Harbaugh's and Greg Roman's tutelage, Smith appeared on the brink of a career revival in 2011.

He took the 49ers to the NFC Championship game, after 13 regular season wins. But things soon changed and reverted to type for Smith in 2012. Harbaugh benched him after 10 games in favour of the more dynamic Colin Kaepernick, who promptly led San Francisco to the Super Bowl.

Even at his best, Smith has never been the franchise-calibre passer the 49ers hoped they were getting. Why then would Reid feel he is the man to key a turnaround for the Chiefs, the worst team in football?

Efficiency could be one reason. In 2011, Smith hurled 17 touchdowns, compared with only five interceptions. Before his demotion in 2012, Smith had tossed 13 scoring passes and again only five interceptions.

Protecting the ball is vital for any team, but particularly one beginning an arduous rebuilding process. As they trim down the roster and maybe sacrifice some talent, the one thing the Chiefs can't do in 2013 is beat themselves.

Smith's mistake-free performances from the last two seasons could fit well with the efficient, West Coast offense Reid likes. Though he runs a pass-first scheme, Reid will often give his quarterback plenty of safe, high percentage routes to aim for.

It's what helped Donovan McNabb quickly flourish as a rookie for the Philadelphia Eagles. It also helped Michael Vick make an initially successful return to the league.

However, as much as Smith and Reid might fit, Chiefs fans could be forgiven for feeling bad history is repeating itself. They turned the most important position on the team over to a backup when they traded for Cassel in 2009.

In fairness, the circumstances are not entirely the same. Cassel was coming off one season filling in for Tom Brady with the New England Patriots. For all his woes during his pro career, Smith has made 75 starts.

Still only 28, he has seven seasons of experience. He should bring more confidence and authority as a starter. Surrounding Smith with the right weapons will be the next vital task for Reid and Dorsey.

Having a running back as talented as Jamaal Charles will help, although featuring the run isn't exactly what Reid is noted for. His biggest decision could be whether or not to retain free-agent wide receiver Dwayne Bowe.

A talented, but temperamental pass-catcher, Bowe is the Chiefs' best weapon in the passing game. He would give Smith a true featured receiver. Perhaps just as important, will be the health of tight end Tony Moeaki.

When Smith thrived in San Francisco, it was usually thanks to this connection with 49ers tight end Vernon Davis. Smith could establish the same rapport with the highly capable Moeaki.

The young tight end is a dangerous, but brittle weapon, having missed 18 games in three seasons. Of course trading for Smith now gives Reid and Dorsey more options in April's draft.

They could trade the first overall pick and stockpile additional selections to help find Smith more scheme-suitable targets. Another option might be using the pick to add Texas A&M left tackle Luke Joeckel to a porous offensive line.

That's a nice dilemma to have when attempting to improve a franchise that has won just 29 games and made the postseason only once in six years.

Smith has certainly found the right, quarterback-friendly coach to get his career back on track. By moving quickly to address the biggest problem position on his roster, Reid has made a decisive start to rebuilding the Chiefs.

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