Call me crazy, but the 49ers should probably go into next season with a quarterback who’s taken NFL snaps.
1. Jimmy Garoppolo: Intriguing, but Kyle Shanahan and John Lynch might flinch when the Patriots list their trade demands. Do the 49ers feel strongly enough about Garoppolo — who’ll be a free agent after the 2017 season — to give up the No. 2 overall pick? If they think he’s THE best option out there, they should pull the trigger.
They have the cap space to absorb his deal if he thrives as a starter next season, and it’s not like the 2017 draft is stocked with can’t-miss prospects.
And if the Patriots would give up Garoppolo for the No. 34 overall pick, it’s a no-brainer if Shanahan thinks he’d be a great long-term fit. Garoppolo is a young 25 (only eight sacks absorbed in his NFL career), and if he’s been paying attention to how Tom Brady prepares and takes care of himself, he could be around for 15+ years.
2. A.J. McCarron: He has done well enough in limited opportunities with the Bengals, but Shanahan is known to prefer guys with canons — not bb guns — for arms. Also, if you aren’t good enough to start over Andy Dalton, are you really that good?
1. Mike Glennon: None of the options in this category will floor you (the best quarterbacks rarely make it to free agency), but Glennon provides a nice combination of attributes in that he’s not that old (just turned 27), shouldn’t cost an obscene amount (although you never know) and we’re not exactly sure of his ceiling just yet.
2. Kirk Cousins: A proven commodity who worked well with Shanahan, Cousins would instantly make the 49ers … better? I guess? Seems like starting the year with a 29-year-old, $20MM/year quarterback is something a team should do if they plan on winning immediately, not two or three years (if they’re lucky) down the road.
There’s a good chance Washington will franchise him, which would render this discussion moot.
3. Colin Kaepernick: I have a feeling that Shanahan won’t even consider him due to accuracy and field vision/processing concerns, and our guts tell us that a so-called “fresh start” would be better for everyone. HOWEVER, only two free agent quarterbacks other than Kap have won even a single playoff game. Only one other free agent quarterback has reached a conference title game, and that free agent quarterback happens to be Mark Sanchez, so …
4. Brian Hoyer: He worked with Shanahan in 2014 and has a TD-to-INT ratio of 25-7 over his last two seasons. At 31, Hoyer could be the perfect guy to keep the 49ers running in place, as a team that doesn’t completely embarrass itself as it stumbles toward another couple of years of top-five overall finishes (in terms of draft position).
5. Matt Schaub: He’s worked with Shanahan, too. As far as pluses go, that’s … that’s about it. If more interceptions (pick-sixes, to be exact) is what you’re after, look no further.
Vets who could be released
1. Alex Smith: He’ll be 33 in May, and while this has almost no chance of happening (he’d probably like to stay away from the 49ers after how they treated him in 2012, and the Chiefs might keep him), he’d be a perfect “bridge quarterback” in that he’d be a great leader and mentor — not just for his successor, but for young skill position players trying to pick up Shanahan’s offense.
2. Tony Romo: He told ESPN’s Ed Werder that he expects to be released, but at his age he’ll want to play on a team that’s well-stocked with things the 49ers don’t currently possess, like good receivers and a dominant defense. There’s a chance he’ll get to choose among a few teams that fit that description (like the Texans and Broncos, perhaps even the Chiefs). Romo has no obvious connection to Shanahan, and the 49ers probably won’t be a decent team before Romo becomes a football announcer/analyst.
Talent-wise, he’s a No. 1 guy. But Romo brings a lot of attention the 49ers don’t really need right now, and there’s a good chance his collarbone would shatter before the end of training camp — which would leave the 49ers on the hook for tens of millions of dollars (not that big a deal), forced to start a lousy backup or inexperienced rookie throughout the entire season (a pretty big deal).
3. Jay Cutler: Plenty of arm, lacking in heart. Not exactly what the 49ers need as they try to pick up the pieces of their shattered locker room.
- Jimmy Garoppolo
- Mike Glennon
- Kirk Cousins
- A.J. McCarron
- Colin Kaepernick
- Alex Smith
- Tony Romo
- Brian Hoyer
- Matt Schaub
- Jay Cutler