Mike Florio of Pro Football Talk tweeted that the 49ers are among the top destinations for Green Bay Packers QB Aaron Rodgers. While Rodgers would likely dictate where he goes, I can’t fathom the Packers trading him in the conference, especially to a team that is a year removed from a Super Bowl appearance.
“There’s a lot of guys’ futures that are uncertain, myself included,” Rodgers said postgame, according to Ryan Wood of the Green Bay Press-Gazette. “That’s what’s sad about it most, getting this far.”
“I’m going to have to take some time away for sure and clear my head, kind of see what’s going on with everything,” he added. “But it’s pretty tough right now.”
“This one stings, and is going to for a long time,” Rodgers said, according to ESPN’s Rob Demovsky.
Despite the looming uncertainty over his quarterback, Packers head coach Matt LaFleur backed Rodgers as the team’s leader going forward.
“I sure as hell hope so,” LaFleur told reporters, per Wood. “I mean, the guy is the MVP of this league. He’s the heart and soul of our football team. So, hell yeah. He better be back here. He’s our leader.”
Financially, this makes sense. If the 49ers were to move on from Garoppolo and take on Stafford’s contract, they would free up at least $4 million of cap space to invest elsewhere on the roster.
It seems unlikely the Lions would want to take on Garoppolo’s scheduled $25.5 million pay in a trade. The 49ers could look to trade Garoppolo elsewhere (Patriots?) or release him.
The balancing act for the 49ers is to consider how much of an upgrade Stafford would be over Garoppolo. Then, would the combination of Stafford’s arrival with the picks going to the Lions ultimately weaken the team?
It’d be understandably easy to play the result and say the 49ers should’ve jettisoned Garoppolo to sign Brady, his former mentor in New England, especially amid increasingly loud questions of Garoppolo’s long-term fit with San Francisco. Brady reaching his 10th career Super Bowl doesn’t mean the 49ers made the wrong call, however, as his Buccaneers benefitted from the kind of good fortune that eluded the 49ers all season.
The 49ers’ injury woes have been well-documented, but their troubles stood in staggering contrast to the Buccaneers’ lackthereof. Thanks to a handy visualization from Man Games Lost, we can see the 49ers’ injured players missed over twice as many games as the Bucs’.
Regardless of your thoughts on Garoppolo, he could benefit from some real competition during training camp and into the regular season. It’s the kind of competition he hasn’t had since his days with the Pats when he was quarterback Tom Brady‘s understudy.
Exactly how the Niners add some competition for Garoppolo this offseason remains to be seen.
ut a potential reclamation project, perhaps someone like the NY Jets’ Sam Darnold or even the Niners’ own, Josh Rosen, could be a pusher of sorts.
And if San Francisco uses one of its first two picks in the 2021 NFL Draft on a quarterback, that’s a pretty good indicator Shanahan and Lynch want to push Garoppolo, too, if he remains on the roster thereafter.
2. Shaquill Griffin
The 49ers have 5 cornerbacks who are UFAs. The biggest and most important name in that group is Sherman. It is imperative to find quality corners, as San Francisco has to face the likes physical wideouts, DK Metcalf, DeAndre Hopkins and Cooper Kupp each twice in the regular season as NFC West rivals. The 49ers should also attempt to get younger in that position group.
This is where Griffin comes in. The 2019 Pro Bowler had 12 passes defensed and 3 interceptions in the 2020 season. With 62 total tackles, he shows a willingness to be involved in the run game. He may not be a lockdown corner yet and be contain the aforementioned receivers. However, he is just 25 years old and he has much room for improvement. Further, he fits the timeline of the 49ers’ defense.