Whats next for the 49ers at Quarterback?
Whats next for the 49ers at Quarterback?
The San Francisco 49ers fresh of a Super Bowl loss have fallen to 6-9 on the season, 4th in the NFC West and have been eliminated from Play-Off contention. Whilst Super Bowl hangovers are well documented, the 49ers’ was unlike most due to the array of injuries to key players such as:
Now with the offseason round the corner the 49ers have a huge decision to make at quarterback, as despite signing Garoppolo a 5-year $137.5 million contract the 49ers could cut him in 2021 and only lose $2.8 million in dead cap space, opening up the conversation for what happens next.
It was only earlier in the 2019 pre-season that John Lynch spoke on ‘The Rich Eisen Show’ about the 49ers mulling pursuit of Tom Brady
"When you're talking about one of the greatest quarterbacks of all time with Tom Brady, of course you're going to have some internal discussion," Lynch said. "And then you hear rumours that hey, he'd like to come home, that kind of thing. So of course, Kyle and I have discussions. We're always into getting better, so you always look at everything”
And that discussion was had despite Garoppolo taking the Niners to the Super Bowl, so after poor season all-round in 2020 the discussion of what next has only heightened.
The Niners have a stacked roster and an elite offensive mind at head coach, so they have a huge decision to make, they could make a splash in free agency or the offseason if a quarterback comes available or look to the draft and to develop a young quarterback.
Below are some of their potential suitors…
Took them to the Super Bowl
22-8 in San Francisco
2019: 13-3, 69.1%, 27 TDs, 13 INTs, 102 NFL Quarterback Rating, 60.8 QBR, 77.9 PFF Rating
2020: 3-3, 67.1%, 7 TDs, 5 INTs, 92.4 NFL Quarterback Rating, 61.6 QBR, 67.5 PFF Rating
Garoppolo had a very good year in 2019, he threw 27 touchdowns to 13 interceptions, completing 69.1% of his passes. He also led the NFL in 3rd down completion percentage with 50%. Garoppolo is currently a game manager who is huge on third downs, and while he may ride Shanahan’s scheme and their run game to an extent, the 49ers are 21-6 including the play-offs with Garoppolo and 4-20 without him. However, in 3 seasons he has missed 23 games, making his health and ability to stay on the field a blatant issue.
3 years in the system
5-11 in SF
Shanahan loves him
2020: 2-6, 64.7%, 12 TDs, 12 INTs, 84.1 NFL Quarterback Rating, 43.1 QBR 31st in NFL, 56.9 PFF Rating
Mullens will likely sign an extension with the 49ers as a back-up regardless, but all indications are that despite Shanahan’s love for the 25-year-old undrafted quarterback, he is not NFL starter material.
2-9 in SF
3rd Round Pick
2020: 61.2%, 5 TDs, 0 INTs, 109.9 NFL Quarterback Rating, 31.1 QBR Vs Cardinals in only start, 58.9 PFF Rating
1st Round Pick
2018-2019: 3-13, 54.8%, 12 TDs, 19 INTS, 63.5 NFL Quarterback Rating, 22.7 QBR
The 49ers recently added Rosen to their practice squad due to injuries at the QB spot, opening up a very interesting opportunity for the 2018 10th overall pick. Rosen has been far from a good scenario his entire NFL career and was a pure passer coming out of college with undeniable talent, so if Shanahan could develop that it would certainly be an intriguing possibility.
Draft a Quarterback, Lance, Trask or Jones?
San Francisco despite having a poor season are still 6-9 meaning they could very plausibly have a late mid round pick in the upcoming draft pushing them out of the Lawrence, Fields and Wilson zone, leaving them with prospects such Lance, Trask or Jones. Whilst they could move up in the draft it would be risky and require severe draft capital or compensation. Drafting a young quarterback would situate them on the rookie contract meaning they could continue to build an elite roster and pay their talented players, but it could also lead to several more years of missing the play-offs and mid round picks, if the prospect doesn’t turn out.
Whilst its very unlikely the Cowboys make him available or he hits free agency if he does, I believe San Francisco should pursuit him very aggressively. Prescott had a career year in 2019 which saw him throw for all most 5,000 yards, 30 touchdowns and ranked 4th in QBR. Together with Kyle Shanahan I believe Prescott could be the man to take the 49ers back to the Super Bowl.
This reunion just feels right to me, in San Francisco the pair would have the opportunity to do right their wrongs in the infamous Super Bowl loss to the patriots. Matt Ryan has had two bottom five defenses over the last 3 seasons and two top 6 offenses. If you give Ryan the Niners defense and run game which the Falcons have lacked in recent years we could see Ryan return to his MVP level partnered with Shanahan.
With a new Head Coach and Front Office coming in in the offseason, there is the possibility Stafford could be on the trade block as the Lions are in range for one of the top 3 quarterbacks this offseason. Stafford is top 15 quarterback and clearly still has elite level arm talent, and the two elite aspects of the 49ers, their defense and run game, are two things that have eluded Stafford his entire NFL career in Detroit. Hence, if he was available this could be a match made in heaven.
If he is available id love this move for both Darnold and the 49ers if the compensation isn’t too high. Darnold has glaring talent but has nothing around him in New York. In San Francisco he would be under arguably the greatest offensive mind in football with an elite run game and defense, a young quarterbacks dream. Personally, I believe Darnold could develop into a great quarterback under Shanahan but there is also the potential we’ve already seen his best in New York.
In my view if it is possible the Niners should strongly consider moving up in the draft to select Justin Fields or Zack Wilson. However, given the likely draft capital demanded for such a trade I believe a trade for Matt Ryan or Matt Stafford is the best option unless Dak Prescott hits free agency, in which circumstance I believe the 49ers should throw everything they have got to secure him for the future.
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