The quarterback position remains a hot topic when it comes to the San Francisco 49ers. As it stands, it looks like outgoing starter Jimmy Garoppolo will be under cross for Week 1 of the 2021 season.
Although the Niners are 24-9 (including the playoffs) with Jimmy G as a starter, critics point to the 23 games Garoppolo missed in the previous three seasons.
San Francisco has won just six of those 23 clashes with Nick Mullens or CJ Beathard at quarterback for injured Garoppolo, who suffered a sprained ankle in Week 2 of the 2020 campaign and never really has regained his health.
It wasn’t just Garoppolo who missed out on extended time last season. High-end talents like Nick Bosa, George Kittle, Deebo Samuel, Richard Sherman and Raheem Mostert also suffered injuries that kept them out of the roster for several games as the 49ers finished with a 6 record. -10.
During their end-of-season media availability, general manager John Lynch and head coach Kyle Shanahan cornered by Garoppolo. Nonetheless, they added that they had to bring in a veteran to support him if he couldn’t stay on the pitch again in 2021.
A week into the onset of free will, it looks like the Niners may need to turn their tide. Various NFL insiders have reported that San Francisco is doing its homework on QBs Andy Dalton, Mitchell Trubisky and Jacob Brissett, but all three have signed with other clubs.
Ryan Fitzpatrick is set to be the Washington football starter next season after signing a one-year contract, while Tyrod Taylor has joined the Houston Texans. The 49ers reportedly brought in veteran Super Bowl winner Joe Flacco for a visit last week, but he left without a deal and signed a contract with the Philadelphia Eagles. Now, there aren’t many proven options left in the free agent market.
There are a few names that stand out, including former Niner Alex Smith.
Smith was drafted No. 1 overall in 2005 by San Francisco, and he ended up playing eight seasons with the team. San Francisco went 38-36-1 with Smith as a starter, and he helped the team get to the NFC Championship Game during the 2011 season. After losing the starting position to Colin Kaepernick in 2012, he was traded to the Chefs de Kansas City in February 2013.
When Patrick Mahomes took over the starting position from KC, Smith was traded to Washington before the 2018 season. He led the team to a 6-3 start before sustaining a fractured right leg in a game. against the Texans de Houston.
The 36-year-old has had 17 surgeries on his injured leg to completely repair the bone and clean up a bacterial infection. Smith missed the entire 2019 campaign before returning last season and helping Washington win the NFC East.
With limited space, Smith will be a cheap option for Lynch and Shanahan. The 49ers’ offense fell apart with Mullens and Beathard replacing Garoppolo last year, so it makes sense to bring in a proven replacement.
The negative point about Smith is his susceptibility to injury from the surgically repaired leg. The San Francisco roster is one of the best in the league when in good health and can’t afford not to have a reliable backup given Garoppolo’s injury history.
However, Smith was as durable as he was before injuring his leg. He only missed four starts for the Chiefs between 2013 and 2017. Smith has proven he can win anywhere. He went 50-26 with Kansas City and 11-5 with Washington.
Another option could be former NFL Offensive Rookie of the Year Robert Griffin III. The 31-year-old spent two seasons with Shanahan as the offensive coordinator in Washington, so there is some familiarity. Griffin has spent the past three seasons with the Baltimore Ravens and started two games.
Some of the other remaining QB free agents include Chase Daniel, AJ McCarron, Matt Barkley and Colt McCoy. Not exactly a row of murderers.
Another avenue to explore is to bring in a veteran signalman via an exchange. Earlier this month, Athletic’s Joseph Person reported that Lynch called the Carolina Panthers to see what the purchase price of Teddy Bridgewater would be.
The rest of the NFL got the message, too: San Francisco is among the teams that have called on Carolina to gauge the Panthers’ interest in potentially trading Bridgewater, according to league sources. San Francisco general manager John Lynch last week indicated the 49ers would like to find a solid backup as insurance for the oft-injured starter Jimmy Garoppolo.
The Panthers hold the No.8 selection in the 2021 NFL Draft and could lead a rookie QB to team up with second-year head coach Matt Rhule. Bridgewater’s guaranteed salary is $ 10 million for next season, with a cap of $ 23 million per Over the Cap.
After Dee Ford’s deal restructuring, San Francisco has around $ 20 million in cap space, according to Over the Cap, which gives Lynch and Shanahan some wiggle room. The 49ers have re-signed Jordan Willis and inked free agent Zach Kerr for a one-year contract to give the defensive line some depth. Assuming Willis and Kerr signed contracts in the order of $ 1 million, the Niners should have around $ 18 million left.
About $ 9-10 million will be saved for incoming draft picks, so San Francisco has a bit of extra cash to play. There are still positions where the 49ers need to add depth, namely the offensive and secondary line, so it will be interesting to see how Lynch and Shanahan spend the money.
The Niners hold the 12th pick in the draft and could take a prospect like Trey Lance or Mac Jones – if they’re still available – or trade to get Zach Wilson or Justin Fields. San Francisco could also select a QB in the final laps and give him time to learn behind Garoppolo.
If Lynch and Shanahan decide to stay at QB, Josh Rosen and Josh Johnson are the only flaggers on the roster behind Jimmy G. We’ve seen what happened during the 2018 and 2020 seasons with Garoppolo injured, and that’s not not something the 49ers want. to repeat in case their starting QB again misses an extended time.
Do you think the Niners should try to sign one of the available veterans? Or wait for the draft to add depth behind Garoppolo?