We’ve talked about how there will be plenty of change on the roster for the San Francisco 49ers this offseason. The Niners could have a new safety, wide receiver, right guard, edge rusher, and cornerback. In a dream scenario, John Lynch and company can keep the roster together, but those are all possibilities we should be bracing for. One position we haven’t covered is one of the most popular positions in all of sports: the backup quarterback.
Jimmy Garoppolo had a successful season fresh off an ACL injury. The 49ers carried three quarterbacks on the roster in 2019, and ultimately it proved to be an unwise decision. That approach should change in 2020. The normal train of thought is, “if your starter goes down, you’re screwed anyway.” The difference between Nick Mullens and C.J. Beathard is substantial, but why can’t the 49ers unload Mullens, move on from Beathard, and find a quarterback with a similar skill set? That doesn’t seem like it would be too difficult.
San Francisco could save just under $1 million in cap savings if they were to cut Beathard. Mullens is an ERFA, so a team only needs to offer him a minimum one-year contract. The 49ers may be a season late when it comes to dealing Mullens, but there is always value and need for a quarterback. Nobody is trading for Beathard. He’s 1-9 as a starter. A year removed, you’re probably looking at a round lower, at least, when talking about dealing Mullens. That doesn’t mean he’s worthless, though. If you could get a fourth-round pick for Mullens, do it. The Steelers, Chargers, Colts, Saints, Patriots, Panthers, and Bucs are all quarterback-needy teams, and that’s just off the top of my head.
If the 49ers are going to keep this championship-caliber roster intact, minor moves like trading your backup quarterback to get a Day 3 pick in the NFL Draft help. Look at some of the players the team has selected on the last day of the draft the past couple of seasons. Dre Greenlaw, George Kittle, and D.J. Jones. In 2018, the Niners drafted great depth in D.J. Reed, Marcell Harris, and Jullian Taylor. The injury bug has a crush on the 49ers, so having depth at critical positions matters. Quarterback is the most important position, and since the 49ers have a competent backup, it’s smart to use that to their advantage.