Usually, a successful NFL team has three strong areas. One is the front seven. Since taking the job, General Manager John Lynch has made that an immediate priority by adding Reuben Foster, Solomon Thomas, and Earl Mitchell to go along with DeForest Buckner, Arik Armstead, Ahmad Brooks, and Navorro Bowman.
Another important part is the offensive line. Pro Football Focus ranked 49ers’ unit 27th heading into this season. Even though that is far from good, Joshua Garnett is going into his sophomore season and still has some upside that could help, especially in the run game. He did hurt his knee, but it is not expected to be serious. Trent Brown needs consistency, but he is very talented. Jeremy Zuttah will help out with the depth and Daniel Kilgore, if healthy (a big if), can be solid inside. Oh and not to mention that Joe Staley guy at left tackle is pretty good.
The last important aspect that makes a good team is franchise quarterback. Right now, the 49ers’ have Brian Hoyer, Matt Barkley, and rookie C.J. Beathard. While Beathard who has started to come along according to reports, was a 3rd round pick and the likelihood of him playing next season is slim.
As we all know, it is extremely hard to compete in the NFL without a quality quarterback. We also know Hoyer is not Mr. Right, but more Mr. Right Now. Barkley will probably never be a legitimate starter and it is too early to tell with Beathard. Since the next franchise QB is probably not on the roster right now, let’s explore the two major options available for the 49ers going forward.
Missing on this guy still stings. However, Lynch could redeem this franchise in a draft next year that is potentially very rich in quarterback talent especially in Sam Darnold (USC) and Josh Rosen (UCLA). The Niners could very well tank next year due to their young roster and lack of talent at quarterback. However, that could be for the best if they can get Rosen, Darnold, or even Josh Allen (Wyoming) in the top 5 or 10.
If the 49ers over-perform next year and Lynch does not trade up for one of the top prospects, they could potentially find a gem later in the draft. In a quarterback-rich class, one is bound to slide. Finding a later round steal is more unlikely, but still a possibility.
Trade for a Veteran
Quarterbacks are hardly ever traded because they are so valuable. However, there could be a few available who have been linked to trade talks in the past. Three major candidates could be Kirk Cousins Philip Rivers, and Jimmy Garoppolo. To start with Cousins, we all know his relationship with the Redskins’ front office is rocky and there have been a litany of trade rumors. Coach Kyle Shanahan was Kirk Cousins’ offensive coordinator for his first two seasons so Kirk is familiar with the Niners’ system.
As for Philip Rivers, the Chargers are in a rebuild phase. The Chargers might be better served shipping him for some young talent to go along with their young core. Rivers still has a few years left in him and could be a good fit for one last with an up-and-coming defense and some good veteran weapons on offense in Pierre Garcon, Marquise Goodwin, Jeremy Kerley, Carlos Hyde, and Kyle Juszczyk.
Lastly with Garoppolo, he has been a hot target for teams this offseason. We do not know how much longer Tom Brady has left in the tank, so Jimmy G. could be a target especially since he is only 25.
In order to get either guy, the Niners would have to give up several assets. If they do end up in the top 5 in the draft, they can use that pick as a major trade piece for one of them. Future picks would probably be involved as well.
Which Should They Choose?
John Lynch should probably stick to building through the draft. Giving up assets for Kirk Cousins, Philip Rivers, or Jimmy Garoppolo with this young team could backfire big time. Garoppolo is still young so he would be the best option and has the most upside out of the three, but he probably has the lowest floor given his barely 3 game sample size as a starter. Lynch and Shanahan are also in no rush as both are locked up for the next seven years. They should look to get the young players as many reps as possible especially towards the end of the year. This way they are more experienced for the next season. With the Cardinals aging, the Seahawks dwindling little by little, and the Rams having a completely unknown future, the 49ers could very well retake this division even with a talented rookie quarterback.
As for C.J. Beathard, it would be great if he can start some games towards the end of the season assuming they are out of playoff contention which they probably will be. If he shows legitimate promise, it would vastly affect the franchise’s decision-making going forward. Realistically, however, it is tough to bank on due to the fact that Dak Prescott and Russell Wilson are outliers as 3rd round rookie quarterbacks succeeding, especially early in their careers. The Niner Faithful will need to remain patient even through the potential struggles and hardships for next season.