The 49ers are currently in the same spot with Kurt Warner that the Giants are with Manny Ramirez. If the Cardinals really upset Warner by low-balling him or making fun of his beard, the Niners might be able to swoop in and steal the 38-year-old away from their strongest divisional foe.
Also like the Giants, it’s unclear whether adding one huge name is enough to move the team from just under .500 to an immediate championship contender.
Still, Warner’s scheduled to come talk to the Niners tomorrow, and the damage has already been done. Now we know why Mike Singletary has gone to great lengths to let everyone know that Shaun Hill isn’t penned in as the starting quarterback — it’s because he won’t be.
Warner’s a great passer, and he’s available as a free agent, but there might be a younger quarterback even more available even though he’s currently under contract: Jay Cutler.
In hopes of getting Matt Cassel, the Broncos were reportedly shopping Cutler in proposed three-team deals, with Cutler possibly going to Tampa Bay or Detroit. The Patriots circumvented all those teams and traded Cassel directly to the Chiefs yesterday, leaving Denver with a quarterback who’ll never trust the team’s new head coach, Josh McDaniels.
Where ESPN sees an easy supply of headlines (and Kissing Suzy Kolber a chance to run a week full of Philip “Marmalard” Rivers vs. Cutler posts full of mouth-eyes…not that that’s a bad thing), the 49ers should see an opportunity. Cutler has a tendency to throw his fair share of interceptions (37 in 37 career games) and any team that employs him have to worry about his candy intake, but he also has arm strength that could be described as “obscene” and turns 26 in April, meaning he makes much more sense on a young team like the 49ers, who still need another year before they’re ready for prime time.
The 49ers don’t have a quarterback like Cassel to offer, but they do have the tenth pick in the draft. If they’re thinking about tossing $12-$15M Warner’s way, wouldn’t a franchise quarterback be worth a high first round draft pick? Or were the Niners thinking of drafting Mark Sanchez (which would be a tremendous mistake)?
If I were Jed York, here’s what I’d do. First I’d go buy a Porsche 911 Turbo and a kegerator full of Chimay. Then I’d tell Scot McCloughan to get on the phone with any team that has a good quarterback and at the same time is giving up on the current squad and would like to start over with as many draft picks as possible. Hmmm, sounds like Cincinnati! The Bengals are a disaster, and when healthy Carson Palmer is at least as good as Cassel.
Alright, maybe Palmer isn’t healthy that often. If Denver isn’t interested due to Palmer’s balky elbow, just offer the No. 10 pick straight up to the Broncos. A nice touch would be to add an email detailing how amazing Sanchez was at USC, along with a video of the 2009 Rose Bowl. Just make sure the Broncos don’t call Pete Carroll for a reference.
After all, the Broncos are in a tough spot right now. Cutler knows he isn’t McDaniels’ first choice, and he seems like the sensitive type. McDaniels may have only wanted Cassel after working with him in New England, but now he’s in a position where he either needs to earn Cutler’s trust (perhaps by helping Cutler T.P. Marmalard’s house) or trade him for whatever they can get. And since Cutler’s talking about his time in Denver in the past tense, trading him might be their only choice.
This is the 49ers’ best chance to not only improve the team in 2009 but ensure they’ll have a solid quarterback for as long as they’re willing to pay him. Unless anybody thinks the Niners become an instant contender by signing Warner, taking advantage of Denver’s quarterback relations gaffe is the smarter move.