The San Francisco 49ers didn’t “miss out” on acquiring Matthew Stafford. Sport’s Illustrated Albert Breer reported that the Niners never made an official offer. Peter King reported that he heard that San Francisco was in discussions with Detroit.
Who knows, and, honestly, who cares?
Kyle Shanahan and John Lynch said that the team would look for upgrades at each position after the season. I’d imagine San Francisco had an initial interest. Once they found out Carolina offered pick No. 8, as Breer mentioned, San Francisco wasn’t going to get into a bidding war for Stafford.
Turning the page on Stafford.
If you are Jimmy Garoppolo, how would you feel, as the current starter, if your team was being tied to every available quarterback? Are you OK with rolling into 2021 knowing that San Francisco openly has tried to move on from you two seasons in a row?
We don’t know what John Lynch and Shanahan tell Garoppolo behind closed doors or how much of what we’ll hear over the next month is accurate, but it’s naive to think it doesn’t affect the relationship between the two sides.
Stafford is now in your division. Deshaun Watson has made it clearer than a San Diego sky in the summer that he has no interest in playing with the Texans as long as VP of Football Operations Jack Easterby works in the front office. If I’m Houston, there isn’t a package out there that’d be enough to pry Watson away.
With that in mind, let’s take a look at the current options that are out there at quarterback, and if any are an upgrade from Jimmy Garoppolo.
The most unpopular potential starting quarterback in 2021 is the current starter, Jimmy Garoppolo. We don’t have to get into a debate about whether he’s the worst starting QB in the division. These were the types of arguments that happened all weekend on social media.
Thankfully, good organizations don’t make decisions based on how fans feel on the internet. We know the team can win with Jimmy because we’ve seen it. The question is whether keeping Jimmy G will be the best option for the team moving forward?
As much as we reference 2019, Mike Pettine isn’t coaching the Packers defense anymore, and if you believe Raheem Mostert is rushing for over 200 yards in the NFC Championship again, then I’ll have what you’re having. Replicating 2019 isn’t sustainable, which is why we continue to have these conversations.
Kirk Cousins/Matt Ryan
Stafford moved the needle. When you think about Stafford in Shanahan’s offense, it’s easy to get excited. The same cannot be said for Cousins and Ryan, both of who have played for Shanahan before. As long as there’s a connection with Kyle, I doubt we see these two names go away.
The Vikings have to make Cousins available first. We’ve talked about how acquiring Cousins is more of a lateral move when you factor in his contract. Trading Cousins would be a $20 million dead cap hit for the Vikings. If he were dealt to San Francisco, Cousins's cap hit would be fully guaranteed in 2021 at $15 million. In 2022, Cousins's cap hit skyrockets to $35 million, though there are no guarantees in his contract.
If the Falcons were willing to trade Ryan with a post-June 1 designation, Ryan’s contract becomes cheaper than Garoppolo’s. You’d have to pay Atlanta to unload Ryan’s contract, but nowhere near as much as the Rams had to pay to unload Goff’s. Realistically, your third-round comp pick should do the trick for Ryan. I’d go two third-round picks if I needed to.
Ryan is 35, but since 2008, he’s missed three games. Three! Don’t let Ryan’s age fool you. He’s still plenty capable of throwing the ball down the field. Ryan attempted 78 passes over 20 yards this past season, with PFF grades of 74.2 to the outside left, 81.0 down the middle, and 92.0 to the outside right. Ryan is still a quality quarterback, and I imagine if you were to poll people around the NFL, they’d say he’s an upgrade.
As for Cousins, he has a terrible rep among 49ers fans. To me, they see a lot of Garoppolo in Cousins. It’s also easy to remember the boneheaded plays Cousins has made over the past couple of seasons. Cousins is far more aggressive than both Garoppolo and Ryan, but he’s also far more reckless.
Again, we’re here, more than anything, because of the thought of going into Week 7 with a backup quarterback under center. With Cousins or Ryan, you’re not worried about that.
In all of these scenarios, I’d take Ryan because I know he’ll be on the field, give players a chance to make a play, and serve as the best “bridge” quarterback available. With Ryan, you don’t have to move any premium picks, you keep your roster intact, and you don’t have the injury questions surrounding him. Plus, you save financially.
A report surfaced on Monday morning that the 49ers are still looking to make a move, and Cousins is a name to keep an eye on. So long as there are question marks about Garoppolo’s health, these reports will continue to surface.
Arthur Smith has to make Ryan available. The Vikings, who have built around their QB, have to make Cousins available. Because of this, Garoppolo and a rookie feel like the most likely options moving forward. Let’s say both Cousins and Ryan were available, which do you choose?
Which is the best scenario for the 49ers heading into 2021?
This poll is closed
Jimmy G/draft pick
Cousins for a future 2nd
Ryan for a third-round comp pick/draft pick
We’ll look at younger options on Tuesday.