Former NFL general manager Scott Pioli told the NFL Network on Sunday he thought it was "possible" the 49ers could get a second- or third-round pick for backup quarterback Alex Smith.
Pioli cited Smith's recent success, trades involving quarterbacks and a draft considered thin on quarterbacks.
What makes Pioli's opinion noteworthy is that until Jan. 4, he was the GM of the Kansas City Chiefs, the team mentioned most often as Smith's possible future home. Former New York Jets GM Mike Tannenbaum, seated next to Pioli during the broadcast, agreed a Smith trade was plausible. The Jets also could use an upgrade at the position.
Earlier Sunday, Jason La Canfora of CBS Sports tweeted that the 49ers have told other teams that a deal for Smith already has been reached, but he offered no other details.
Since a deal can't be completed until March 12, the 49ers are unlikely to lock themselves into a trade so quickly, especially since they don't have to pay Smith his full salary until April 1. Pioli speculated that the 49ers could even wait until training camp, when other teams grow more desperate.
One scenario in which a deal for Smith makes sense this early in the process is if Smith was given a say in where he ends up and the 49ers' trade partner is to his liking.