SANTA CLARA, Calif. — Requested in regards to the future at quarterback, San Francisco 49ers coach Kyle Shanahan and normal supervisor John Lynch have repeatedly stated they anticipate Jimmy Garoppolo to be the starter in 2021.
However Shanahan and Lynch have additionally left wiggle room in case one thing higher pops up. One thing like, say, a chance to land a 25-year-old franchise quarterback getting into his prime or a 32-year-old with eight 4,000-yard seasons trying to play for a contender.
“You may’t say something with certainty,” Shanahan stated in late December. “You do not sit right here and make guarantees on something.”
Only a few months later, the thought would not appear so outlandish, as ESPN’s Adam Schefter has reported a number of folks in and across the workforce imagine Watson is so sad in Houston he has performed his closing snap there. Watson has not formally requested a commerce and there is nonetheless an opportunity he’ll stick with the Texans. But when he asks out, he’ll be highly-coveted by many groups.
Whereas the Watson state of affairs wants readability, there is not any doubt the Detroit Lions and quarterback Matthew Stafford are headed towards a cut up. Sources informed Schefter on Saturday the Lions will search a commerce for Stafford. That information was much less stunning because the Lions start a rebuild and Stafford seeks an opportunity on a contender.
Each conditions bear monitoring for the 49ers.
How would Watson or Stafford match with the Niners match?
Within the phrases of famous thinker Ace Ventura: Like a glove. Each possess the kind of bodily means, in addition to a observe document of manufacturing and sturdiness that might make sense for the 49ers.
Maybe misplaced within the Niners’ plan to signal Kirk Cousins after the 2017 season was they’d spent plenty of time with Watson within the run as much as the 2017 draft. That they had a non-public exercise with him at Clemson and he was one of many workforce’s 30 pre-draft guests. However the 49ers handed on Watson and each different first-round quarterback as a result of that they had their eyes on Cousins, though that by no means occurred due to the commerce for Garoppolo.
Practically 4 years later, it is simple to image Watson thriving in Shanahan’s offense. His mobility and deep ball accuracy (45.4% completion fee on throws 20-plus yards downfield is second within the NFL since he entered the league), would enable the offense to take a leap ahead and stress defenses in methods heretofore unseen.
What’s extra, the cap cost for a workforce buying Watson is round $10 million. Garoppolo is scheduled to depend $26.9 million in opposition to the cap subsequent yr and the Niners would incur $2.8 million in useless cash by buying and selling or releasing him. The cash saved at quarterback would give the Niners a large chunk to re-sign left sort out Trent Williams.
Stafford is not fairly the worth of Watson given his age and a wage cap quantity — $20 million for 2021 and $23 million for 2022. However that’s nonetheless a relative cut price for a man who has began 165 video games and thrown for 45,109 yards and 282 touchdowns since he was drafted in 2009. Stafford additionally possesses one of many league’s strongest arms, rating eighth within the NFL on throws touring 20-plus yards within the air since getting into the league.
Shanahan has stated if you are going to transfer on from one participant, the man changing him have to be a transparent improve. There is no debating Watson represents that for the 49ers. The identical is true of Stafford, albeit to a lesser diploma.
For both participant, the Niners would appear to have loads of attraction. San Francisco’s roster is loaded, though accidents ravaged the Niners a season after reaching the Tremendous Bowl. Give Watson or Stafford a robust operating recreation, pass-catchers similar to George Kittle, Deebo Samuel and Brandon Aiyuk and a stout protection, and the Niners could be contenders, if not favorites once more within the NFC.
What may it value?
So much, particularly for Watson, although Watson’s no-trade clause may alter that.
Discovering a comparability for Stafford is less complicated than for Watson, although the closest comp for both participant might be Carson Palmer, who requested a commerce from the Cincinnati Bengals after the 2010 season. Palmer threatened to retire if his demand wasn’t met. The perimeters engaged in a standoff with Palmer not reporting to camp and the Bengals spending a second-round choose on Andy Dalton.
Lastly, the Bengals realized Palmer was an asset and so they may at the very least get worth for him in a commerce. They dealt him to the Oakland Raiders for a first-round choose in 2012 and a second-round choice in 2013.
Undoubtedly, Watson would garner rather more in a commerce. The Niners may transfer draft picks and so they have star gamers, although they’d be extraordinarily hesitant to maneuver somebody like finish Nick Bosa or linebacker Fred Warner.
Watson holds some company due to that no-trade clause. How far would he be keen to go to land the place he needs?
If Watson was keen to take a seat out, he may basically select his vacation spot. Positive, Watson would not receives a commission and would incur some hefty fines if he did not report, but it surely does the Texans no good to have an sad Watson sitting on their roster and never taking part. As a rule, when star gamers demand trades, they get traded finally.
Since Watson has that no-trade clause, it stands to purpose he’d use it to land in a positive vacation spot the place he could be proud of the tradition and have an opportunity to win Tremendous Bowls immediately. The less groups concerned, the decrease the presumed worth, but it surely would not be low-cost. It is laborious to check a state of affairs by which a possible commerce would not embrace at the very least three first-round picks and that is in all probability simply a place to begin.
Stafford’s worth must be significantly decrease, in all probability nearer to Palmer’s as soon as was, however even which may not be as low-cost as some may suppose given there are a variety of groups similar to Indianapolis, Chicago, Denver and probably even New Orleans and Pittsburgh that might be within the combine.
How reasonable is it for the 49ers?
If the Texans get a bidding conflict, there’s little likelihood the 49ers may outbid groups just like the Miami Dolphins or New York Jets. These groups have top-three picks (which the Texans may use to draft Watson’s alternative) and a number of first-round picks on this yr’s draft. Barring a willingness to commerce a few of their very own younger stars, maybe a couple of, along with their picks, it is laborious to see the 49ers competing.
Which implies there’s actually just one state of affairs by which a Watson-49ers marriage may occur: Watson calls for a commerce both particularly to the 49ers or consists of them on a brief record of groups that does not embrace groups with extra to supply.
So, whereas Watson to the Niners could be must-see TV, Stafford is a extra reasonable risk, as long as the price to amass him would not go to a spot the 49ers aren’t keen to go to. And if it does? The 49ers stay ready to run it again with Garoppolo and bolster the backup spots behind him.