The Jaguars franchising their left tackle was good news for the 49ers. Speaking of left tackles, on Chris Collinsworth’s latest podcast, Richard Sherman predicted that Trent Williams would return to the Niners, and Williams responded, “that’s not a bad take, fellas. Ya’ll are barking up the right tree.”
This offseason features plenty of talent at edge rusher, and the Niners would be wise to take advantage. From Carl Lawson to Leonard Floyd, getting more athletic along the edge should be a priority this offseason.
Now that the franchise tag deadline has passed, we should begin to see some action or at least rumors of who teams are interested in.
DE Carl Lawson
Say that Trent Williams demands top left tackle money and doesn’t back down. That’d put Williams at over $23 million per year with his upcoming contract, and it’d also likely price the 49ers out of the sweepstakes for him. Potentially interested teams like the Colts and Jaguars simply have much more spending money.
In that case, Shanahan might have to move to a contingency plan. Heavily investing in an elite center like Corey Linsley instead of a top left tackle — and hoping such a move would elevate the entire offensive line — might be the 49ers’ optimal play. Without a bulky Williams deal on the books, the 49ers would have much more money available than originally anticipated for signings at other positions.
One such spot would be edge rusher.
If the 49ers don’t make a change at QB, they’ll have more draft capital to use on other positions. The 49ers had some key rookie contributors in 2019. Nick Bosa and Deebo Samuel were only acquired by the 49ers because of a down year the preceding season. The 49ers may have a chance to acquire some instant impact rookies in this draft as well.
Building a roster with the vision that Garoppolo is your starting QB gives the 49ers a clearer plan of action. They know what Garoppolo does and doesn’t do well, and can have an easier time building the team around that. Giving Garoppolo another go in hopes of bringing home a title certainly isn’t a bad plan.
Are Shanahan and Lynch committed to Garoppolo beyond Week 1 of 2021? Of course not. That’d be ridiculous given his 2020 struggles. They have doubts. They can’t and won’t name all of them. But unless Deshaun Watson falls into their laps, the 49ers will go into this season with Garoppolo at the top of the depth chart at least one more time. This time, though, he won’t be the only interesting QB listed.
Prediction 3: Jacoby Brissett will be added as a veteran backup
Yes, I think Shanahan and Lynch will keep checking in with the Jets about Sam Darnold’s availability to become a kind of super backup to Garoppolo. But I think the trade price might be too high. I doubt the 49ers would give up their first-round pick for Darnold, and I think Shanahan and Lynch could be lining up for something else with their second-round pick.
Coincidentally, the 49ers have uncertainty at right guard, where four different players started games during the 2020 season.
The 49ers could look for a stopgap veteran, such as Long. Or they could move forward with Daniel Brunskill or Colton McKivitz, a fifth-round draft pick in 2020.
Long made three Pro Bowls from 2013 to ’15. But he appeared in just 29 games over his final four seasons due to shoulder, triceps, foot and ankle injuries.
“There’s a certain type of person they want there,” Long said. “They have an archetype, which is bright, tough and probably great communicators.”
Long singled out 49ers left guard Laken Tomlinson, who earned degrees from Duke University in anthropology and psychology. Tomlinson plans to become a neurosurgeon after his career is over.
“Laken can do open-heart surgery. He can also diagnose blitzes,” Long said. “But he’s also willing to put his neck out there and jack somebody up.”
Keeping Garoppolo doesn’t help the 49ers. If they keep him until the draft and then take a quarterback, the Patriots offer for Garoppolo could go down. Because in that case, the 49ers wouldn’t be able to pretend they still want Garoppolo. He’d be old news, the guy they’d have to get rid of.
The 49ers should trade Garoppolo back to the Patriots before they change their minds. The Patriots most likely are the only team desperate enough to trade a second-round pick for Garoppolo, because they can’t afford to miss the playoffs again while Tom Brady potentially wins another Super Bowl in Tampa.
Pull the trigger, John and Kyle. Be bold.