Believe it or not: Bears might have actually won the Trubisky trade

May 1, 2020

Don’t look now, but the Chicago Bears may have actually won the Mitch Trubisky trade.

Of course, that’s not meant to operate as a testament toward Trubisky or Bears general manager Ryan Pace. Instead, it’s an indictment on the talent acquired by the San Francisco 49ers. 

In fact, it might be more accurate to say the Bears lost a little less in a trade that did very little for either franchise. 

A small refresher: Ahead of the 2017 NFL Draft, three quarterbacks competed for the honor of top available quarterback. Those quarterbacks were the University of North Carolina’s Mitch Trubisky, Clemson University’s Deshaun Watson and Texas Tech University’s Patrick Mahomes. 

Watson and Mahomes later emerged as perennial MVP candidates, with the latter already securing his first Super Bowl, regular-season MVP and Super Bowl MVP awards. Meanwhile, the Bears remain undecided on whether to pick up Trubisky’s fifth-year option.

Nevertheless, Watson and Mahomes’ successes are a moot point.

With the 49ers on the clock in the 2017 NFL Draft, the Bears traded the No. 3, No. 67 and No. 111 picks in the 2017 draft to move up one spot to select Trubisky. If that doesn’t sound bad enough, they also threw in a third-round pick (No. 70) in the 2018 NFL Draft for good measure. 

Because draft capitol apparently means nothing to Pace.

Anyways, the Bears proceeded to select Trubisky with their newly-acquired second overall pick. While Trubisky experienced a startling regression in 2019 that invited the Bears to acquire a journeyman quarterback to compete with Trubisky for (read: take over) starting quarterback duties in 2020, Trubisky did exhibit flashes of competence over the preceding seasons.

In 2018, Trubisky earned a 95.4 quarterback rating across 14 games, good for 16th in the NFL. For comparison’s sake, Ben Roethlisberger of the Pittsburgh Steelers finished 15th with a 96.5 rating.

That year, Trubisky also earned his first and only Pro Bowl berth after quarterbacking the Bears to their first postseason appearance since 2010. 

As alluded to earlier, Trubisky has been slightly above average at best and an outright bust at worse. Yet the 49ers somehow managed to botch their selections too.

With the third pick in the 2017 NFL Draft, the Niners selected Solomon Thomas out of the University of Stanford. A rugged defensive end projected to be an elite contributor, Thomas’ skill set failed to translate to the professional level, with Thomas collecting only six sacks and 16 tackles for loss across three seasons. 

After a 2019 season that saw Thomas relegated to bench duties, the 49ers declined the former No. 3 overall pick’s fifth-year option. 

The No. 67 pick in the 2017 NFL Draft was invested in three-time Pro Bowler and 2017 Associated Press Offensive Rookie of the Year Alvin Kamara. However, it was the New Orleans Saints that selected Kamara, not the 49ers. 

Let me explain.

The 49ers traded the 67th pick in the 2017 draft to the Saints for a seventh-round pick and a second-round pick in the 2018 draft. The 49ers used the seventh-round pick to select strong safety Adrian Colbert, who since signed with the Miami Dolphins after a pedestrian spell with the 49ers. 

The second-round pick, later used to select running back Derrius Guice in the 2018 draft, was flipped along with a third-round pick to (Geron Christian) to Washington for the 44th and 142nd overall selections in the 2018 draft. The 49ers used those picks to acquire Dante Pettis and D.J. Reed, respectively. 

After an encouraging rookie campaign, Pettis managed only 109 receiving yards on 11 receptions in 2019. Reed developed into a depth secondary piece in San Francisco, where he remains today.

The 49ers also traded their fourth-round pick along with Cam Robinson to the Seattle Seahawks for the draft rights to Reuben Foster. After starting the first 16 games of his career, injuries derailed Foster’s momentum. 

Now with Washington, Foster tore his ACL, MCL and LCL during the third play of the first organized team practice of 2020. Foster also suffers from nerve damage, costing him sensation in his left foot. The former University of Alabama linebacker hasn’t played in a regular-season contest since Week 6 of the 2018 NFL season.

Finally, San Francisco used the No. 70 pick in the 2018 NFL Draft to select Fred Warner. Warner emerged as a valuable piece for a Super Bowl-bound 49ers team, starting all 32 games since his rookie season. 

In 2019, the former Brigham Young University Cougar finished 14th among all NFL linebackers with 89 solo tackles while tying for first with three forced fumbles. Warner’s future looks bright and can change the result of this trade should he continue his upward trajectory. 

Make no mistake about it, the Trubisky trade still stands as a terrible decision marring Pace’s reputation as a decision-maker. It was reckless, consequential and counterproductive to an extended return to relevance for the Monsters of the Midway.

Nonetheless, as it stands today, the Bears appear to have tentatively “won” this disastrous trade. 

Read more by Matthew Rago:

How Ryan Pace once again whiffed on securing the Bears’ franchise quarterback

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