Everyone's buzzing about the San Francisco 49ers' latest "blockbuster" move. On Monday they received Jonathan Baldwin from the Kansas City Chiefs in exchange for The Walking Dead Season 3 box set, a Jerry Rice bobblehead and a $50 gift certificate to Trader Joe's.
They also threw in wide receiver A.J. Jenkins to sweeten the pot.
On paper this trade looks meaningless. In two seasons Baldwin has caught 41 passes for 579 yards and two touchdowns. He hasn't shown any signs of improvement in the preseason, dropping several passes and causing Andy Reid to scream into his headset and flub his evening breakfast order from Sonics.
Rather than having to pay the $705,000 Baldwin is owed this season, the Chiefs traded their latest bust for a new one.
In return, the 49ers get rid of an abysmal player who may have been one of the most embarrassing things to happen to the franchise since the waistband of Jed York's Green Lantern briefs was caught on national TV.
When A.J. Jenkins was announced as San Francisco's first-round selection last year, fans weren't exactly wringing their hands. Coby Fleener (whom Harbaugh had mentored during his time at Stanford) was still on the board, and the popular belief was that the 49ers needed to draft a quality tight end with Vernon Davis approaching 30.
Instead Baalke and Harbaugh opted for Jenkins, and they never really heard the end of it. I got a call from the telephone company warning me that my service was about to be terminated if I didn't stop text messaging the front office photoshopped pictures of Jenkins wearing a Rashaun Woods jersey.
While A.J. came to camp disinterested and out of shape, Harbaugh had no one to blame but himself for his failures. Really, the things they expected him to do were ridiculous and absurd. Let's run down a few of them.
2. catch the football
Jerry Rice offered to help him with his workouts, and though he appeared interested at first ultimately decided that running up hills interfered with his weekend visits to the Nordstrom spa.
He's a nice guy and a great locker room presence, which is about the only thing I was ever good at when I tried out to play football. What's more impressive is that I've caught exactly as many passes in the NFL as A.J.
So now we're left with an equally ineffective receiver in Jonathan Baldwin.
Or are we?
During his two years in Kansas City, Baldwin had Matt Cassel, Brady Quinn, Kyle Orton and Tyler Palko throwing him the ball. That's a revolving door of awful unmatched by anything the Niners threw out before the Jim Harbaugh era.
Now that he'll have more than a few good passes thrown his way, there's a feeling that Baldwin might experience a resurgence.
There's a lot to like about Baldwin. He's 24 years old, a former first-round draft pick and has excellent size and strength. There's also plenty to loathe. He drops a lot of passes, gets into fights and makes some pretty crappy films.
At best I can see him as a serviceable No. 3 option behind Boldin and Manningham once he returns sometime after Week 6.
But the 49ers have given Kaepernick another toy to play around with. Let's just hope it's better than the unused junk they bought last year.
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