So by now, you know that the San Francisco 49ers traded wide receiver A.J. Jenkins to the Kansas City Chiefs in exchange for fellow receiver Jonathan Baldwin. By now you've heard the analysis: Baldwin is a good fit here, Jenkins needed a change of scenery, etc etc.
But if you were on Twitter when the news broke, you likely saw a whole mess of people talking about how Jenkins is a bust, and how the 49ers missed out big time by not drafting someone like, say, Doug Martin.
True, there were plenty of players on the board who have been productive after Jenkins. And it's true that the 49ers probably took Jenkins a bit early because the St. Louis Rams wanted him. Aaaaand once again, it's true that the 49ers probably should have been clued in on the fact that the Rams suck at drafting receivers (maybe they'll get it right this year?) and they should have let them have him.
So what am I going to say now to make this all sound better? In what way can I absolve Trent Baalke of his first true colossal draft bust?
Not a thing. He screwed up. [Site decorum] happens. Baalke came up to the plate, swagger aplenty. He probably let the first two pitches go by because he's that good. Then he slipped, swung and spun around and landed on his ass. He's drafted players who didn't pan out before, but this is the first time a first-round pick has failed on this scale.
It doesn't mean he's bad or that he's losing his touch. It means he's human, and like every general manager who has ever made the final call on a player, he made a mistake. This is true and its something we should have expected eventually, but that first draft bust sure does suck, doesn't it? He loses that Superman aura.
But there is some upside to this. First, there's the fact that this was bound to happen sooner or later. Let's just get it out of the way now. Second, I think the 49ers got the better deal here. With how much disarray they've had in Kansas City and how strong and stable the 49ers organization is, wouldn't you rather take a flyer on a Kansas City washout than stick with someone who couldn't produce even a tiny little bit with such a strong base to pull from?
Maybe Baldwin will do nothing in San Francisco. Heck, maybe Jenkins will do something neat in Kansas City. At the end of the day, the 49ers screwed up a first round pick and are still among Super Bowl favorites, plus they have an able-bodied wide receiver who might be able to do something good. They're in a better place than they were on Sunday.