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Would the 49ers win a Super Bowl with Matthew Stafford as QB?

One offensive coach told The Athletic’s Mike Sando that they would.

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Photo by Michael Zagaris/San Francisco 49ers/Getty Images

The San Francisco 49ers are back in contention for a playoff spot after beating the Los Angeles Rams in Week 12, but questions at the quarterback position remain. Starter Jimmy Garoppolo has only appeared in six games this season due to ankle injuries, while backup Nick Mullens hasn’t done a ton to inspire confidence.

General manager John Lynch and head coach Kyle Shanahan have said they want Garoppolo to be the starter in 20201, but it isn’t guaranteed that he will be back. The Niners can choose to walk away from Jimmy G in the offseason with minimal salary cap implications. Garoppolo has a $26.4 million cap hit, but if the organization decides to walk away from the QB, they will have just $2.8 million in dead money, per Spotrac.

If San Francisco lets Garoppolo go, it could look to draft his replacement in 2021. Some highly-regarded college QBs will be available in April, including Trevor Lawrence, Justin Fields, Trey Lance, Kyle Trask and Sam Ehlinger. The 49ers already have five wins on the year, so getting Lawrence or Fields would probably require Lynch to give up the farm in terms of future draft picks.

The other option is to explore a trade for a veteran signal-caller, and who fits the bill is Matthew Stafford of the Detroit Lions, who just fired head coach Matt Patricia and general manager, Bob Quinn. It seems like the Lions have been in a rebuild for the last 20 years.

The new regime may be looking for a fresh start and could move from the 32-year-old Stafford. The Athletic’s Mike Sando looks into Detroit’s possibility of moving on from the QB and came up with the five-best landing spots for Stafford. One of the teams Sando suggests is the Niners, and one NFL coach he spoke to is bullish on the idea:

“They would win a Super Bowl. Stafford would be in a real organization finally. He would bend to Shanahan and that offense because there is such a history of success with that system. And Stafford would know he’s not going to get hit in the head all the time like in Detroit.”

It would most likely cost San Francisco a first-round selection to get Stafford, but the total package will be less than it would take to move up the draft board. Stafford has two years left on his deal with a cap hit of just under $35 million in 2021 and $27.95 million in 2022.

Stafford’s passing abilities would fit in seamlessly in Shanahan’s system. He has a quick release and has been among the best pocket passers in the league for a decade. As Sando points out in his piece, Stafford’s game is similar to Matt Ryan’s, who won NFL MVP with Shanahan as his offensive coordinator.

The sad-sack Lions have wasted his talents. Detroit has made the playoffs three times since selecting Stafford in 2009, failing advance past the Wild Card round.

Lynch and Shanahan looked into adding Tom Brady before the 2020 season and decided Garoppolo was the better option. Could they do their homework on Stafford for 2021?

Here is how Garoppolo’s advanced passing numbers compare to Stafford’s, courtesy of Pro Football Reference:

Garoppolo Air Yards
Stafford Air Yards
Garoppolo accuracy
Stafford accuracy

Garoppolo’s numbers have been slightly better than Stafford’s since 2018, but the Niners have had the better overall the last two seasons.

There is still a lot of football left to be played in 2020, but if the Niners falter down the stretch, the prospect of trading for Stafford is fascinating.

Who would you rather have at QB for the 49ers next season out of Garoppolo and Stafford?