The NFL free agency negotiating period is underway and we have seen some big names already on the move. Deals can’t be made official until Wednesday, but the San Francisco 49ers have already taken care of business on a few fronts.
One position Lynch acknowledged the Niners will try and do this offseason is adding a quarterback to backup presumptive 2021 starter Jimmy Garoppolo.
Last year’s backup QBs Nick Mullens and C.J. Beathard’s contracts have expired and it’s high likely that neither will be brought back for the 2021 campaign. The Niners re-signed Josh Rosen and also have Josh Johnson under contract for next season.
We have heard rumors about the 49ers being linked to a few quarterbacks already, but Matthew Stafford is now with the Los Angeles Rams and Deshaun Watson remains with the Houston Texans. The New York Jets could also move on from 2018 No. 3 overall pick Sam Darnold. But nothing has developed involving San Francisco.
Why is it important for the 49ers to look to bring in another veteran to backup Garoppolo?
For one, the 29-year-old’s durability has come into question after missing the majority of two out of the previous three seasons. Garoppolo tore his ACL in Week 3 of the 2018 season and dealt with multiple ankle injuries that forced him to miss 10 games in 2020.
Secondly, we saw the results without Jimmy G in the lineup. Mullens got a bulk of the starts with Garoppolo sidelined and finished the campaign with a 2-6 record. Mullens completed 64.7% of his passes for 2,437 yards, 12 touchdowns, and 12 interceptions. While his stats look respectable, Mullens was responsible for several back-breaking turnovers that led to San Francisco losses.
The 25-year-old had a rough three-game stretch from Weeks 13 through 15, where he had seven turnovers that resulted in 34 points for the opposition. Pro Football Focus gave Mullens a 56.9 grade on the season, ranking 38th out of 40 eligible quarterbacks. His adjusted yards per attempt was 6.6, and he finished the year with a QBR of 44.4.
Neither quarterback did enough to show that they should definitely be brought back for the 2021 season. With Garoppolo’s injury-history and a roster that is among the best in the league when fully healthy, Shanahan and Lynch should look to bring in a veteran option as a backup.
So far, we have seen Dak Prescott get a mega-deal with the Dallas Cowboys. Cam Newton re-sign with the New England Patriots and Brandon Allen got a new deal to return to the Cincinnati Bengals. While the New Orleans Saints retained Jameis Winston and re-worked Taysom Hill’s contract following Drew Brees’ retirement.
The Washington Football Team replaced Alex Smith with veteran Ryan Fitzpatrick, who signed a one-year deal worth $10 million (could get up to $12 million with incentives). Andy Dalton is headed to Chicago on a one-year contract while Tyrod Taylor is signing with the Houston Texans on a one-year $12.5 million deal.
Here is a rundown of some of the QBs who are available on the open market:
The NFL Network’s Mike Garafalo says the 49ers have Mitch Trubisky on the list of QBs they’re considering in free agency.
Trubisky’s tumultuous time with the Chicago Bears looks like it is coming to an end. The Bears declined to pick up the fifth-year option for the second overall pick from the 2017 NFL Draft. Trubisky was benched after Week 3 in favor of Nick Foles but got the starting job back when the veteran got hurt in Week 10. Trubisky led Chicago to a 3-1 record over the final four games and helped the franchise sneak into the playoffs.
Jacoby Brissett was Phil Rivers’ backup in Indy last season and could re-sign with the Colts to sit behind the newly acquired Carson Wentz. Brissett helped Indianapolis to a 5-2 start in 2019 but then proceeded to lose seven out of the final nine games,
Robert Griffin III was Lamar Jackson’s backup with the Baltimore Ravens and has a history with Shanahan. The pair spent two seasons together in Washington, where Griffin won the 2012 NFL Offensive Rookie of the Year Award.
Some of the other names that are available include Joe Flacco, Matt Barkley, Mike Glennon, Blake Bortles, and Blaine Gabbert.
Lynch and Shanahan could also look to take a QB with the No. 12 pick in the 2021 NFL Draft. Players like Trevor Lawrence, Zach Wilson and Justin Fields will likely be gone by then, but Trey Lance and Mac Jones could still be on the board.
Either way, San Francisco is well-positioned to be a contender next season with Garoppolo as the starter. The 49ers have won 72.7 percent of their games (including playoffs) that Garoppolo has started since joining the team in 2017.
But the health concerns are entirely valid given that he has missed 23 games over the past three seasons. With a roster that features high-end talents like Nick Bosa, George Kittle, Fred Warner, Deebo Samuel and potentially Trent Williams, Lynch and Shanahan would be wise to add a dependable backup.
If the Niners sign a veteran QB in free agency, which available player do you think would be the best fit?