The 49ers pulled off a genius trade at the draft that set them up to land Jimmy Garoppolo

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    The 49ers acquired quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo from the New England Patriots in exchange for a second-round pick. The pick came from the surplus of selections the 49ers built thanks to a huge trade at this year’s NFL Draft. Garoppolo will provide a boost to a team that has yet to win a game in 2017.

On Monday, Adam Schefter of ESPN reported that the San Francisco 49ers were trading a second-round pick in exchange for Jimmy Garoppolo of the New England Patriots. That deal may sound relatively straightforward, but the 49ers actually made the transactions that enabled it to happen more than six months ago at the NFL Draft.

The 49ers had the second overall pick, and their plan was simple: use it to take pass rusher Myles Garrett or trade it for, in the words of general manager John Lynch, “a ransom.” When Garrett came off the board first, San Francisco accepted a proposal from the team selecting just behind them, the Chicago Bears.

The 49ers sent their pick to the Bears for the third overall pick, their 2017 third- and fourth-round picks, and a 2018 third-round pick. Essentially, Lynch received three extra selections in exchange for moving down one spot in the first round. Throw in the fact that the 49ers weren’t interested in Chicago’s choice, Mitch Trubisky, and it looked like highway robbery.

Fast forward to October, and the 49ers still had five picks in the first three rounds of next year’s draft. That kind of young talent is everything to a team in the midst of a rebuilding project (they’ve gone 7-33 since the start of the 2015 season), but the surplus of selections allowed Lynch to cash one of them in for Garoppolo, the most intriguing backup quarterback in the game.

With 690 passing yards and 5 touchdown passes in 94 career attempts, Garoppolo is talented, but unproven. But even without a lengthy track record of NFL success, he’ll inject some new life into an offense that was previously led by Brian Hoyer and C.J. Beathard. Increased fan interest will be a nice bonus.

It’s not like the Garoppolo trade doesn’t have a downside. The Eastern Illinois product is set to become a free agent after this season, meaning the 49ers will need to sign him to an extension if they want him to stay in the Bay Area for more than eight games. If he opts for free agency instead, then they’ll have given up their second rounder for essentially nothing.

That wouldn’t have been a concern if San Francisco had drafted Trubisky or Deshaun Watson, but for all we know they just acquired a quarterback with more talent than either of those men. The savvy deal at the draft put the 49ers in an ideal position to take a risk, and they delivered with the biggest trade of the 2017 season.

The deal with the Bears wasn’t the only positive from the 49ers’ draft experience. They also took Solomon Thomas and Reuben Foster, both of whom were high on their in-house board.