The alternate universes that exist for the San Francisco 49ers during the past few seasons are endless. You can play the “what if” game at numerous positions. Defensive tackle is an obvious one, with DeForest Buckner.
Many believe San Francisco would have selected N’Keal Harry in the second round of the 2019 NFL Draft had New England not taken him with its first-round pick.
The number of quarterbacks linked to the 49ers since the end of the 2019 regular season is close to, if not surpassing, double digits. There was a time not long ago when it felt like the Niners were connected to every signal-caller not named Jimmy Garoppolo.
Tom Brady is the most prominent example. That’s a name that still hasn’t gone away. San Francisco reportedly flirted with the likes of Teddy Bridgewater and Sam Darnold. Neither of those names felt like legitimate options, except for Matthew Stafford.
Stafford became a Ram on a Saturday. The Friday before, the 49ers were the odds-on favorite to land Stafford. And you can say what you want about betting lines, but Stafford himself said he expected to be a 49er. He said as much to teammate Jalen Ramsey in a recent appearance on Straight Off the Press:
“Now, did I think I was going to the Los Angeles Rams? That was the last team I would have ever thought I was going to. I thought I was going to be across the bay in San Fran. I thought San Fran. I thought maybe Washington.”
Kyle Shanahan and Sean McVay have discussed what happened. During the summer of 2021, Shanahan said the 49ers were trying to get involved, but McVay beat them to the punch.
As we know, the 49ers wound up trading multiple first-round picks to move up and select Trey Lance. The Stafford trade is water under the bridge, but his acknowledging how close a trade was will only rehash a couple of month stretch where we felt like Stafford to the Niners was happening.