The Kansas City Chiefs have traded wide receiver Jon Baldwin to the San Francisco 49ers for wide receiver A.J. Jenkins in a swap of disappointing first-round picks.
Both teams hope the trade will invigorate the men's careers.
Baldwin was the 26th overall pick of the Chiefs in 2011. He missed time his rookie season after getting hurt in a fight with a teammate, and has been prone to dropping passes. He has just 41 catches for 579 yards and two touchdowns in two seasons.
Jenkins was the 30th overall pick of the 49ers last year. He appeared in only three games as a rookie and did not make a catch, even though he was healthy all season.
It's the second significant deal between the Chiefs and 49ers this year. Kansas City acquired quarterback Alex Smith from San Francisco for a pair of draft picks during the offseason.
Baldwin was drafted by former General Manager Scott Pioli. He played at the University of Pittsburgh. He had a rocky start when he came to Kansas City. He got into a fight with former Chiefs running back Thomas Jones, breaking his thumb in the process. That caused him to miss the first five games of his first season with the Chiefs.
Jenkins came under much criticism during last year with many calling him a bust.
"We are pleased to add Jonathan to our team and look forward to incorporating him into our offense," 49ers general manager Trent Baalke said in a statement. "Both players have been presented a great opportunity for a new beginning with their respective teams."
Baldwin had trouble with dropped passes throughout training camp under new coach Andy Reid, including one when he was wide open in last Friday night's preseason loss to San Francisco.
That drop alone apparently was not enough to dissuade the 49ers from making the deal.
"There's no reason that both of these guys can't end up having a great career," 49ers coach Jim Harbaugh said. "Both of these young men have that opportunity, and they definitely have the ability and license to get it done."
Jenkins was the 30th overall pick of the 49ers last year, but may have had a more perplexing rookie season than Baldwin. He appeared in three games but did not make a catch, even though he was healthy throughout his team's NFC championship season.
"We felt like this trade was beneficial for all parties involved," said Chiefs general manager John Dorsey, who was hired in January to replace Pioli.
Dorsey and Reid clearly weren't enamored of the big wide receiver after breaking down video of him upon their arrival. One of their major acquisitions in free agency was Donnie Avery, a veteran wide receiver who was expected to compete with Baldwin for the job opposite Dwayne Bowe.
Baldwin didn't do much to change the Chiefs' opinion of him this offseason, either.
Even though they're desperate to give Smith some downfield options, Baldwin never seized upon the opportunity. He routinely dropped balls in practice, struggled to get open in preseason games and never showed signs of being the kind of playmaker the Chiefs need on the outside.
"You don't know what you will get out of him," Chiefs offensive coordinator Doug Pederson said before Sunday's practice. "If he's down from drops or mental errors or whatever it is, you just work yourself out of it. You continue to press on. We always talk about short-term memory. You have to have it in this business and move on."
Otherwise, your team eventually will move on, as Kansas City did Monday.
The 49ers are hopeful that Baldwin can flourish without having to deal with the pressure that came with being a primary target in Kansas City. Even though Michael Crabtree is out with a torn Achilles tendon, San Francisco still has veteran Anquan Boldin, Kyle Williams, Mario Manningham when healthy, and tight end Vernon Davis to carry most of the load in its passing game.
Still, all that help wasn't enough to help Jenkins break out. The speedy wide receiver had another rough preseason showing against the Chiefs last Friday night, and many were beginning to question whether the former Illinois star would even make the team.
He was targeted twice in the game, but failed to catch either pass. Jenkins had one reception in the 49ers' preseason opener against Denver, but also lost a fumble.
"I have to support the organization and my coach, but I think it's a great stepping stone for him because he gets to start over and start new," Davis said Monday. "To me, he still has a lot of potential. His career's not over. He's just starting somewhere else."
Williams said the opportunity to reunite with Smith could help things click for Jenkins, who was often criticized for his work ethic and off-the-field habits in San Francisco.
"Honestly, I'm happy for him," Williams said. "It's kind of a breath of fresh air. He gets to go over there, get in a new system, get over there with Alex, and Alex will bring him up to speed. I couldn't be happier for him, because I know it's going to be a great opportunity for him."
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