October 15, 2021

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Fit And Go Forward

Why 49ers are in good spot to evaluate their top QB options for 2021

49ers’ lack of QB desperation has them in good spot for 2021 originally appeared on NBC Sports Bayarea

Yes, the 49ers’ top decision-makers repeatedly gave Jimmy Garoppolo votes of confidence over a period of a couple weeks, including the day after the team’s 6-10 season concluded.

There were plenty of reasons to expect Garoppolo to be back as the 49ers’ starter in 2021. Just look around the NFL. A healthy Garoppolo is a far better option than what a lot of teams have at quarterback.

But the news of Saturday and Sunday also provided the reason the 49ers have not given a 100-percent commitment to Garoppolo.

Because of a tumbling salary cap and, perhaps, as many as four quarterbacks who could be drafted as immediate starters, things can change quickly.

Also, you never know what’s going on behind closed doors and which veteran quarterback might force their way out of a union.

Matthew Stafford convinced the Detroit Lions it is best for both sides to end it now.

Deshaun Watson reportedly no longer wants anything to do with the worst franchise in professional football, the Houston Texans.

And soon-to-be-three-time NFL MVP Aaron Rodgers has every right to be disillusioned with his team of the past 16 seasons, the Green Bay Packers.

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The Stafford-Lions divorce is logical.

The Lions have a new general manager and head coach. This is a good time for a split. Detroit has one playoff victory in the past 50 years, and none with Stafford. It’s best for both sides to start seeing other people.

But the Texans have no reason to want to get rid of Watson, just as the Packers would take a major hit if they dealt Rodgers.

Top-of-the-market players have a lot of power. Watson and Rodgers both have the muscle to force moves that go against the very reason those organizations exist — to field the best teams possible and win football games.

Watson and Rodgers feel betrayed. And, to varying degrees, they have been.

The Texans gave away Watson’s top receiver, DeAndre Hopkins, to the Arizona Cardinals a year ago. Texans ownership and management are simply awful.

Green Bay not only drafted a quarterback in the first round of last year’s draft, they traded up to get Jordan Love with the No. 26 pick in the draft.

So instead of bringing in an offensive weapon or some other player who could help Rodgers and the team this season, the Packers chose a player who would spend his entire rookie season as the team’s third quarterback behind Rodgers and Tim Boyle.

That’s right, Tim Boyle — not Jordan Love — was the Packers’ backup quarterback this season.

Sure, the Packers screwed up. The only thing that could make it worse is if they screw up again.

And Rodgers could exert his force to make that happen.

Rodgers is scheduled to count $37 million against the Packers’ cap in 2021. If they traded him, he would still count more than $31.5 million against Green Bay’s cap.

If Rodgers were to be traded, he would count $22 million against his new team’s cap. As a point of reference, if the 49ers were to trade or release Garoppolo, that’s a move that would save the 49ers $24.1 million in cap space.

So, as far as financial impact, the 49ers would create a couple million dollars in cap savings with that move. They could also convert Rodgers’ salary and roster bonus to signing bonus to clear even more cap space for 2021.

Of course, it would also cost a nice chunk of compensation — draft picks (and, possibly, a player) — to swing that trade.

Because of Watson’s age (25) and contract status (signed through 2025), his trade value should bring the most in return to his current team. Then, Rodgers, 37. Then, Stafford, who turns 33 on Super Bowl Sunday.

RELATED: Stafford trade: 49ers, NFL teams who will be interested in QB

Right now, there is a possibility that three top-flight quarterbacks could be changing teams this offseason.

And, who knows, maybe there will be others who want out of their current situations.

It was because of the possibility of unforeseen circumstances, such as these, that 49ers coach Kyle Shanahan and general manager John Lynch stopped just short of making any guarantees for the future.

That was wise.

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