ICYMI, former Pitt wide receiver Jon Baldwin was traded to the San Francisco 49ers a couple of days ago from ending a tumultuous time in Kansas City.
When Baldwin was picked in the first round of the 2011 NFL Draft, it was a bit of a shock. Not a 'fall out of your seat' kind of deal, but kind of surprising. Baldwin had displayed plenty of potential at Pitt and his large frame gave him ideal NFL size. But I always thought he had a lot of drops on very catchable balls and his attitude certainly didn't help.
In case you forgot, just before he left, there were the inflammatory indirect comments about Tino Sunseri and the playcalling. Still, Baldwin was promptly taken in the first round.
Unfortunately, he got off to a rocky start with the Chiefs. He was supposed to be the star opposite Dwayne Bowe, who desperately needed a quality secondary receiver - something he hadn't really had since tight end Tony Gonzalez was there. Instead, he got off to a slow start on the field and then was involved in a fight with teammate Thomas Jones. An apparent Twitter ban followed and Baldwin's career was officially off to a bad start.
Things have quieted down off the field, but Baldwin hardly did much on it to be worthy of a first-round pick. Over two seasons, he had only 41 catches for 579 yards and two touchdowns. It may be too early to label him a bust, but Kansas City had seen enough. The team dealt Baldwin to San Francisco in exchange for another first-round pick, wide receiver A.J. Jenkins.
If there's any hope for Baldwin, it may be with the Niners. The team has Anquan Boldin, but star receiver Michael Crabtree is rehabbing an Achilles tear and will be out for several more months. Mario Manningham is there, too, but he's also battling injuries. The 49ers have a lot of question marks at receiver and the former Pitt star could see significant playing time there.
Also, don't expect him to be cut even if he doesn't perform in the preseason. As Gregg Rosenthal notes for NFL.com, his contract in 2013 is guaranteed so the Niners will likely hang onto him for this season no matter what.
This may not be Baldwin's last shot in the NFL, but he should make the most of his opportunity this season to get his career back on track.