A year ago, I did a Hindsight Draft Trade article on Patrick Mahomes following his strong start to the 2018 season. This series looks at teams that traded up in the draft to select a certain player. I analyze how that player has performed as well as what happened to the picks that team gave up and whether or not the trade was worth it.
With a year removed from the Mahomes article, it is clear that the trade has worked out for the Kansas City Chiefs, and they would do it again in a heartbeat.
Mahomes went 10th overall in the 2017 NFL Draft, but there was one QB who was drafted ahead of Mahomes. That man is Mitchell Trubisky who went 2nd overall to the Chicago Bears. The Bears traded up one spot in order to draft Trubisky, but they are not seeing similar results to the Chiefs.
Time will tell if Mitchell Trubisky is a bust, but first I will look at what happened with the picks the Bears traded away, as well as what the Bears could have done with those picks.
tl;dr at the bottom that shows who got selected at each pick the Bears traded away. It does not take into account trades 49ers made with those picks.
Mitchell Trubisky Analysis
In the 2017 NFL Draft, the San Francisco 49ers held the 2nd pick with the Bears right behind them in the three spot. The first mistake that the Bears made was trading up in the first place. The 49ers convinced the Bears that they wanted to select Trubisky with the second pick, and would need a haul of picks to move back one spot.
Chicago fell for this lie as the 49ers had no interest in drafting Trubisky as they intended to select DE Solomon Thomas the whole time. The Bears gave up the 3rd, 67th, and 111th picks in the 2017 draft as well as a third round selection in 2018 to trade places with the 49ers in order to select Trubisky.
We can talk about how Mahomes and Deshaun Watson were still on the board for the Bears to take, but the real mistake the Bears made was trading spots with the 49ers. If they stood pat, the 49ers would have taken Thomas with the 2nd pick leaving Trubisky on the board at 3. They could have gotten the man they wanted while still hanging on to all those picks.
As you can see from the stats above, Trubisky is by far and away the inferior QB to his 2017 Draft counterparts. He has played in more games than both men and has significantly worse stats. Trubisky is in last place in almost every stat other than INTs, sacks, and rushing statistics where he comes in second place.
In hindsight, it is clear that the Bears should have stayed at 3 and drafted Mahomes or even Watson. Mahomes was the MVP of the 2018 season, but they could not go wrong either way. Instead, Chicago traded away a plethora of picks and drafted Mitchell Trubisky. Now let’s see what happened to those picks.
2017 NFL Draft 1st round (3rd)
With the third pick in the draft, the San Francisco 49ers selected DE Solomon Thomas. This is the guy they wanted all along, and they would have selected him with the 2nd pick if they could not trick the Bears into trading up.
It is easy to say the 49ers messed this pick up as Solomon Thomas has not developed into anything special, but Thomas was the consensus pick at the time. It would have been a surprise if the 49ers went with anyone other than the Stanford product.
The only players that would have made sense for the 49ers to draft were S Jamal Adams and RB Christian McCaffrey. Both players went within five picks of the 3rd overall selection, so the 49ers could have justified the reach at the time. In 2019, we can say that the 49ers should have reached and selected one of those two players, but that was hard to do in 2017.
Solomon Thomas will most likely not have his fifth year option picked up, and he will be traded either this off-season or before next year’s trade deadline similar to what the Jacksonville Jaguars did with former 3rd overall pick Dante Fowler Jr.
2017 NFL Draft 3rd Round (67th)
The next pick the 49ers acquired was a third rounder which ended up at 67th overall. San Francisco actually traded this pick away to the New Orleans Saints who selected RB Alvin Kamara. The 49ers came out on the better side of the Mitchell Trubisky trade no matter what, but hanging onto this pick and selecting the 2017 Offensive Rookie of the Year would have been the dagger in the deal.
The 49ers also could have drafted WR Cooper Kupp with this selection as he went two picks later to the Los Angeles Rams. Imagine the 49ers’ offense with Alvin Kamara in the backfield or Cooper Kupp catching passes from Jimmy Garoppolo.
Instead, they traded away this pick for a 2017 7th rounder (229th) and a second round pick in 2018 (59th). With the 229th pick, the 49ers selected DB Adrian Colbert, who is now on the practice squad for the Seattle Seahawks.
With the 59th pick in 2018, we travel further down the rabbit hole as the 49ers used this pick to trade up in the second round to the 44th pick while also acquiring pick 142 in a trade with the Washington Redskins.
San Francisco selected WR Dante Pettis with the 44th pick, who has played in 18 games, while hauling in 36 catches for 550 yards. With the 142nd pick, the 49ers selected DB DJ Reed who is nothing more than a depth option for San Francisco. Neither of those picks have turned out great for the 49ers.
Now turning to what San Francisco gave up for the 44th pick, Washington selected RB Derrius Guice with the 59th pick who has shown promise, but has spent most of his first two seasons on the IR. The 49ers also sent over the 74th pick in the draft. Washington selected OT Geron Christian with this pick and he missed most of 2018 with an injury and has barely played in 2019.
With the 67th pick in the 2017 draft, the 49ers should have drafted Alvin Kamara or Cooper Kupp as they did not net much from the trade with New Orleans.
If the 49ers made the trade with the Saints, they should have stood pat at pick 59 and selected WR DJ Chark, who went two picks later, as he had more upside than Pettis. San Francisco would have held on to the 142nd pick in this scenario, and should have just thrown a dart at the board for this selection.
The 49ers never should have traded up in the 2018 draft as they got nothing valuable in return.
2017 NFL Draft 4th Round (111th)
The last pick in the 2017 NFL Draft that the 49ers acquired from the Bears was a 4th rounder (111th). Once again, the 49ers would not use this pick as they packaged this selection with the 34th pick in the draft in order to move back into the first round at pick 31.
With the 31st pick, the 49ers selected Reuben Foster who is a very talented player, so it should have been a good pick, but Foster’s off-the-field behavior made him unemployable. This would have been a good pick if Foster did not have major character issues.
In hindsight, the better pick would have been to trade up to 31 and select OT Ryan Ramczyk who is a stud at right tackle, and also does not have any issues with being a decent human being off the field.
The funny thing is, the 49ers could have held onto the 111th pick and selected All-Pro S Eddie Jackson. The Bears actually traded up to pick 112 and selected Eddie Jackson who they probably would have selected with the 111th pick if they did not trade it away to San Francisco.
The Seahawks ended up drafting DB Tedric Thompson out of Colorado with the 111th overall pick who is having a fairly decent year as a starting FS in his third season.
2018 NFL Draft 3rd Round (70th)
The last pick in this never ending saga of NFL Hindsight Draft Trades is the third round pick in 2018 (70th) that the 49ers received in their trade with the Bears. This one is straightforward as San Francisco kept this pick and drafted LB Fred Warner out of BYU.
Warner is easily the best player the 49ers drafted with the Bears picks. He has been a starting LB for two straight seasons now, while amassing 157 total tackles and 110 solo tackles in his first 22 games. Fred Warner is mostly a tackle machine as he has no interceptions or sacks in two seasons with the 49ers.
The Chicago Bears clearly lost this trade as A. they selected the wrong QB, and B. they could have stood pat and still drafted Mitchell Trubisky.
I do find it hard to label the 49ers as winners of this trade, though. They amassed a plethora of picks, but they did not do much with those selections. Only one of those picks is currently a starter for San Francisco, and they missed an opportunity at drafting All-Pro caliber players.
I guess this trade does not really matter for San Francisco as they are currently 6-0 and poised for a Super Bowl run, but they could have put themselves in a much better position.
The 49ers had a chance to blow Chicago out of the water in this trade, but all they have to show for it is a starting MLB who gets the job done, but does not make many plays.
tl;dr – Chicago Bears receive – 2017 Draft (2nd) – QB Mitchell Trubisky
San Francisco 49ers receive
2017 (3rd) – DE Solomon Thomas
2017 Traded to New Orleans Saints (67th) – RB Alvin Kamara
2017 Traded to Seattle Seahawks (111th) – DB Tedric Thompson
2018 (70th) – LB Fred Warner