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With 15 draft picks expected, 49ers prime trade partners for Bills

By Tim Graham

If the Buffalo Bills want to trade back into the first round or move up into the second round for a player they want -- perhaps a quarterback -- then the San Francisco 49ers have emerged as obvious candidates to work out a deal.

The Niners reportedly have worked out a trade that will send quarterback Alex Smith to the Kansas City Chiefs for this year's second-round draft choice (34th overall) and other unrevealed considerations. The Niners also hold the 31st overall selection.

It's no secret the Bills need a quarterback and want to draft one early. They own the eighth and 41st overall picks.

Draft analysts are hesitant to put a high first-round value on a quarterback in this year's class, but the best prospects could be gone by the time the Bills draft in the second round. Thus, the Niners become attractive trade partners.

Even before the Smith trade, the Niners appeared ready to wheel and deal draft picks. They won the NFC championship and are expected to have at least 15 picks in this year's draft.

The Niners own 12 picks already (all seven they've been assigned plus five acquired via trades) and are expected to be awarded three untradeable compensatory picks.

Can 15 rookies make San Francisco's talented roster? Not a chance.

"I don't know that we need 14 rookies," 49ers General Manager Trent Baalke said last week at the NFL scouting combine, when his team had only that many picks. "We need 14 good football players.

"We've always had the opinion of, 'We're not afraid to move up. We're not afraid to stand pat and pick where the selection is. And we're certainly not afraid to move back.'

"We've been successful doing all of the above. How are we going to use them? That remains to be seen. But certainly we enjoy the fact that we're in the position to have 14."

The St. Louis Rams led the NFL with 18 rookie or first-year players on their roster last year. The Cleveland Browns had 16, and the Indianapolis Colts had 15.

Those teams were coming off 2-14, 4-12 and 1-15 seasons.

"Anything's possible," 49ers coach Jim Harbaugh said at the combine. "But we also have a lot of good players on our team. Just as a point of fact, take all the players we have on our team, and we would love to see them develop and coach them to be the best they can be. So there's no way 14 players can come in and make the roster.

"At the same time, we're going to find 14 players to come in and beat out 14 of our guys who are currently on the team. That's working at the same time. It's iron sharpening iron effect. I can imagine it both ways."


2013 draft | 2013 NFL scouting combine | Jim Harbaugh
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About Press Coverage

Tim Graham

Tim Graham

Tim Graham returned to The Buffalo News in 2011 after covering the NFL for three years at ESPN and for one year at the Palm Beach Post. Before that, the Cleveland native spent seven seasons on the Buffalo Sabres beat for The News and was president of the Boxing Writers Association of America.

@ByTimGraham |

Mark Gaughan

Mark Gaughan

Buffalo native Mark Gaughan started working at The News in 1980 and has been covering the Bills exclusively since 1992. He is a former president of the Pro Football Writers of America, and he is a member of the Pro Football Hall of Fame selection committee.

@gggaughan |

Jay Skurski

Jay Skurski

Jay Skurski joined The News in January 2009. The Lewiston native attended St. Francis High School before graduating from the University of South Florida. He writes a weekly Fantasy column in addition to his beat writing duties.

@JaySkurski |