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San Francisco 49ers quarterback Alex Smith (11) at a press conference at the Marriott New Orleans in advance of Super Bowl XLVII against the Baltimore Ravens. Smith has been traded to the Kansas City Chiefs. / Kirby Lee, USA TODAY Sports

Andy Reid didn't wait long to secure a new starting quarterback in Kansas City.

Reid and the Chiefs have reached a deal to acquire San Francisco quarterback Alex Smith, according to a person informed of the impending trade. The person spoke to USA TODAY Sports on condition of anonymity because the move can't become official until March 12, when the league's new year begins.

The trade was first reported by FoxSports.com.

The Chiefs will give up a second-round pick (No. 34 overall) this year and a conditional pick in the 2014 draft.

"With Alex coming in, we're going to rally around him," Chiefs right tackle Eric Winston told USA TODAY Sports on Wednesday. "I know I'm going to do everything I can to help him."

The 49ers drafted Smith with the No. 1 overall pick in 2005, but it wasn't until 2011, after the arrival of coach Jim Harbaugh, that Smith was able to shake the label of draft bust.

Smith was 19-5-1 with only 10 interceptions since 2011, and helped lead the 49ers to the NFC championship game last year. But Colin Kaepernick's emergence after Smith was sidelined with a concussion Nov. 11 led to Harbaugh's controversial decision to stick with Kaepernick even after Smith was ready to return. Smith didn't complain publicly after the move, and supported Kaepernick in the team's run to the Super Bowl.

49ers safety Donte Whitner called Smith the "ultimate pro" Wednesday on Twitter. And left tackle Joe Staley tweeted Smith was an, "Amazing teammate, friend, and person. I know he will do great things there."

Smith was the best veteran quarterback available, either via trade or in free agency, and the quarterback-needy Chiefs didn't wait for the official start of the new league year to make their move. In Smith, the Chiefs are getting a player who recently earned a reputation as one of the league's most efficient quarterbacks.

"It's a great fit for Alex, I can't think of a better one," former NFL quarterback Trent Dilfer, who mentored Smith in 2006-2007, told USA TODAY Sports. "It's a tremendous move for Alex who for once gets to play in a quarterback-driven offense. This will really be his first time in his career with multiple passing formations, multiple-protection schemes with creativity in the screen games. This is a bells-and-whistles passing game any quarterback would love to play in."

Finding a quarterback to replace Matt Cassel was the top priority for Reid and new general manager John Dorsey, who were hired in January to replace Romeo Crennel and Scott Pioli. Quarterback Matt Cassel, acquired in a trade with New England and signed to a new contract in 2009, struggled with 12 interceptions in eight starts last year. He is due $7.75 million in 2013, but is expected to be released. Backup Brady Quinn, who threw two touchdowns and eight interceptions in eight starts, is set to become a free agent.

"This team struggled in the area of turning the ball over, and with low points. Andy's got to fix all that," said ESPN analyst Herm Edwards. "Now he's got a quarterback that won't get them beat."

For Winston, as much as he's looking forward to playing with Smith, knowing Cassel is losing his job makes the trade "bittersweet." Winston was the teammate who angrily ripped thousands of Chiefs fans for cheering when Cassel left an Oct. 7 loss to Baltimore with a concussion, saying it was sickening.

"Obviously, you had the sense they were probably going to go in a different direction just because of the totality of all that's happened. But at the same time, you realize it's going to cost some of your friends their jobs," Winston said. "Obviously, the organization wanted to bring in new blood. You know that going in. You know everybody is up for review and that's just how it is."

The Chiefs can now focus their free agent and draft attention on building an offense around Smith, starting with decisions about wide receiver Dwayne Bowe and left tackle Branden Albert. The Chiefs could use their franchise tag on Bowe, and Albert, a former first-round pick who dealt with a back injury in 2012.

Kansas City still owns the No. 1 pick in the draft, a spot in which the Chiefs can have their pick of offensive linemen, like tackle Luke Joeckel.

"It's a starting point. It would have been a whole lot more difficult for them to head into free agency without a quarterback, and the draft. Now that you've got Alex you can start adding the pieces around him," said former NFL quarterback Rich Gannon, who now works as an analyst for Sirius NFL Radio. "You look at the situation he was in San Francisco -- good running game, good tight end, good play action team, great defense. I think they can have that same type of team around him in Kansas City."

The 49ers, meanwhile, own 12 picks in the 2013. San Francisco will likely receive additional picks when compensatory selections announced at the owners' meetings March 17-20. San Francisco will need to add a backup quarterback, and have the picks necessary to add help in the secondary and defensive line.

"They're going to run the draft," Edwards said.



Copyright 2014 USATODAY.com

Read the original story: 49ers agree to trade quarterback Alex Smith to Chiefs

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