First, let’s get this straight. Now that Pat Bowlen has gone on record with his desire to formally cut the cord with Jay Cutler, the 49ers should do whatever they can do to get him — short of trading Patrick Willis, of course. The fact that the 49ers drafted Alex Smith No. 1 in 2005 and the Broncos got Cutler at pick No. 10 in 2006 has driven everyone crazy (well, me anyway) for a few years now, even though the Broncos have made the playoffs as many times as the 49ers have in the past three seasons.
The 49ers wanted Kurt Warner, but Cutler’s twelve years younger and makes far less money, meaning the salary cap wouldn’t be an issue. The 49ers could use more talent at several positions, obviously, but nobody available at the No. 10 pick in the 2009 Draft is going to increase their chances of winning more games than upgrading from Shaun Hill to Cutler.
Has anyone ever thought that the reason why a bad practice quarterback like Hill was able to go 7-3 over the last couple years is because after watching Hill all week they were reluctant to take silly risks with him in the game? Or has anyone wondered if the rest of the team isn’t that bad, but was simply suffering from comically sloppy quarterback play from Smith, Trent Dilfer, Chris Weinke and J.T. O’Sullivan?
The 49ers don’t have the receivers to make getting Cutler worth it? Well, they don’t exactly have a Brandon Marshall right now, but Josh Morgan, Jason Hill and Dominique Zeigler would look a lot better with Cutler around. Maybe even that Brandon Jones guy they signed would, too. What the 49ers will have in 2009 is a defense. No, they won’t exactly have the best defense in the NFL, but it’s a lot better than what the Broncos will be throwing out there next season.
But do the 49ers really have a shot at this? Sure, as long as they’re not afraid to act decisively and without fear. The without fear part I think they can handle. Decisiveness? I just hope they can avoid annoying the Broncos to the same extent they obviously bothered Warner and Matt Stafford in the past month.
The 49ers look to have five other suitors to compete with in the Cutler Sweepstakes, and according to the Denver Post the Broncos will be looking for “at least one, possibly two, first-round draft picks and a quarterback in return for Cutler.” The 49ers can handle that. The No. 10 pick is a perfect one, because it gets you elite talent without the insane signing bonuses teams have to pay for the top choice (sorry, Lions). They also have the No. 43 (2nd round) and No. 74 (3rd round) picks. They should offer the No. 10 and Hill and let the negotiations begin. If they need to give up the first and second round picks this year or a first rounder this year and the next, it would be worth it. After all, the 49ers traded the No. 10 pick in the 2008 Draft (which ended up being Jerod Mayo) and the No. 110 pick (which was traded to the Raiders for Randy Moss) to the Patriots for the No. 28 pick in the 2007 Draft (which ended up being Joe Staley). Just typing that gave me a headache. If the 49ers are going to get all Vegas-crazy with draft picks for a short-term thrill, it might as well be for a Pro Bowl quarterback this time instead of a decent converted left tackle.
The Denver Post story also mentions what each of the five other teams (without even including the Niners) might have to offer. Here’s the BASG rebuttal to each:
Washington Redskins: Would they really give up Jason Campbell for Cutler? We want the 49ers to get Cutler because they haven’t had a talented young quarterback worth a crap in over a decade. Campbell’s good and isn’t a crybaby (yeah, I know Cutler’s being kind of emo about almost getting traded, but desperate times for the 49ers call for desperate measures, and I’m smelling another 7-9 years with Hill as the starter). The Redskins have the No. 13 pick. Not quite No. 10!!!
New York Jets: If the Broncos think they’re going to get a quarterback as good as Cutler they’re crazy, since Cutler has pretty much forced the Broncos to trade him. But I’d rather have Hill for a year or two to mentor Matt Sanchez and compete with Chris Simms than Kellen Clemens or Brett Ratliff. The Jets also choose seven spots after the Niners, but they do have ESPN pulling for them. Don’t discount that, I’m still convinced that’s why they ended up getting Favre last year.
Detroit Lions: Do the Broncos really want the No. 1 pick in the draft? Of course, five picks in the first three rounds mean they also have the No. 20, 33, 65 and 82 picks, but do the talent-starved Lions really want to give up a bunch of picks for a quarterback (who’s shown he can get just a little moody) who’ll no doubt be upset about being sent to the NFL’s first 0-16 team? Actually who knows, they’re the Lions. They may do it. Nah, they’ll draft Stafford.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers: No quarterback to offer, the No. 19 pick in the first round and no second round pick. They’d have to bring a third team into the mix, which is exceedingly hard to do in the NFL, where trades are rare occurences just between two teams.
Chicago Bears: Kyle Orton is a drunker Jay Cutler without the arm strength (say what you will about Hill, but you’ll never catch him drinking huge bottles of Jack Daniel’s on Deadspin while sporting a neckbeard). The Bears draft eight spots after the Niners. They don’t have enough to land Cutler, unless they decide to throw in Matt Forte or something.
***Note to Scot McCloughan: Don’t offer Mark Roman to the Broncos in an attempt to “sweeten the deal.” If you thought Warner’s eyes glazed over quickly when Singletary started talking about the I-Formation, you’ll be shocked when you hear how quickly Denver hangs up the phone if you offer the only NFL safety physically incapable of catching interceptions. But if for some reason the Broncos want A. Smith and his bum shoulder, by all means make it happen. Now get out there, and get Cutler!