It’s no secret the 49ers need a change at the quarterback position. Colin Kaepernick has regressed and Blaine Gabbert as showed he’s no better than a backup QB. Christian Ponder wasn’t able to get on the field for regular season action. Whoever the new general manager and coach are they will have a lot of work to do.
The new coach and general manager will have to take a look at the current QBs on the roster and decide if any of them are worth retaining. Colin will most likely opt out of his contract and he would like a fresh start, but a lot of teams in the NFL may stay away from him because of his protests of the national anthem. I believe the only team that is open to have him are the 49ers. Jed York has openly supported Colin’s cause. Blaine Gabbert would probably test free agency and try to win a starting job somewhere else. We didn’t see enough of Ponder to evaluate whether or not if he should return or not.
Who are some QBs they can trade for if they decide to go with that option? One name that stands out is Patriots backup QB Jimmy Garoppolo. He’s got huge upside and is only 25 years old. The Patriots have set the price point for him at at least a 1st and 4th rd draft pick. He’s also been sitting behind one of the best QBs ever in Tom Brady for a few years and a lot of people want to see what he can do. A huge benefit for the 49ers would be if they decide on Patriots offensive coordinator Josh Mcdaniels being their next head coach. The transition of Jimmy to the 49ers would be a lot easier, but it would cost them a few high draft picks. 2 other trade candidates would be Cowboys QB Tony Romo and Bengals backup QB AJ McCarron. Romo would be a huge surprise to be traded and that all depends on how Dak Prescott performs in the playoffs. The Cowboys haven’t decided if they want to move Romo yet, but I highly doubt it especially since owner Jerry Jones is very close with him. McCarron has been the backup to Andy Dalton for a few seasons now, but has shown he can play in the NFL. He’s had a few starts over the years and is ready to be a starting QB in the NFL. The Bengals have yet set a price point for him, but he might be available for a mid to late round draft pick.
How do this years free agent class of QBs look? There’s a few older veteran QBs that might be looking for a new job and a few former top draft picks looking for a fresh start. Jay Cutler of the Bears will probably join the list depending on what the Bears decide. Ryan Fitzpatrick of the Jets, Matt Cassel of the Titans, and Brian Hoyer of the Bears are some options if they decide to bring in a veteran and use him as a stop-gap to develop a prospect or wait a year to draft a highly touted QB prospect. Mike Glennon of the Bucs, Geno Smith of the Jets, and EJ Manual of the Bills are the group of free agents that were once top prospects, but have yet to perform and would benefit from a change of scenery. Mike Glennon is the most intriguing player out of this group. He’s a 6’6″ QB with a strong-arm and is mobile enough to make defenses think twice. He’s got 30 career TDs and 15 ints. Those numbers are enough for a QB starved team to look at. Another player that would bring a lot of attention is Redskins starting QB Kirk Cousins. Cousins value has definitely risen due to his tremendous play this season. The Redskins have 3 options: they can franchise tag him at around 23 million dollars, sign him to a long-term deal, or let him test free agency and let the market set his value. He’s priority number 1 for the Redskins, but if they have any issues negotiating with him then that could open the doors for teams to get in a bidding war for him. A dream scenario would be if the 49ers hire Redskins offensive coordinator Sean McVay as their head coach and sign Kirk Cousins. That transition would be very smooth just the way Garoppolo and Mcdaniels would be and it wouldn’t cost them any draft picks.
Championship teams are through the draft. Is the franchise QB available in this years draft? Only time will tell, but this years QB draft class has been labeled weak according to scouts. The 49ers hold the number 2 overall draft pick and they could possibly use it on a QB. Who are their options since it’s a weak QB draft class? If they decide on using the number 2 pick on a QB they might consider 1 of these 3 QBs. Mitch Trubisky of North Carolina, DeShone Kizer of Notre Dame, and Deshaun Watson of Clemson. Trubisky is a 1 year starter from North Carolina and led his team to the Rose Bowl this season. Kizer may have hurt his value returning to school this season, but due to a weak draft class a lot of scouts see him as the best QB prospect. Deshaun Watson is playing in the National Championship game tonight and was the starter in last seasons game also. He could definitely polish his resume with a win and have a tremendous game versus the top ranked Alabama Crimson Tide. If they decide to not draft a QB at number 2 then I would like to see them take a QB in the middle to late round for one. They could possibly take a look at Miami QB Brad Kaaya or Ole Miss QB Chad Kelly and have them develop for a year or 2 behind a veteran QB.
A lot of tough decisions need to be made this upcoming off-season, but the first one to make when it comes to the roster is what to do at QB. Both general manager and head coach need to decide early on what the plan is and they need to take a long look at every option. Whatever the decision is, there will always be a handful of fans that will disagree with it.