This edition of the 49ers Mailbag is all quarterbacks, all the time.
The 49ers have their head coach. They have their general manger. They even added two top personnel executives.
Now, Kyle Shanahan, John Lynch, Adam Peters and Martin Mayhew must come up with a plan for the 49ers to approach the offseason at the quarterback position.
Thanks to those on Facebook who submitted questions. Here we go. . .
What are the chances, if any, that Kaepernick remains with the team? (Chris Standart)
Lynch and the personnel department will have a voice. But this decision has to come straight from Shanahan. Here is what Shanahan said during Super Bowl week when I asked him what he values when evaluating a quarterback:
“If you’re born to throw and it’s effortless, you can do it with ease and you don’t have to think about the throwing part because everything else is so hard. And if you have that, you want a guy who’s fearless. If you sit and watch the rush in this league or you’re thinking about getting hit or have any hesitation, you don’t have much of a chance. The game moves too fast and you have to keep your eyes downfield.
“And you got to have a certain amount of intelligence so that you can handle everything. But it’s not just your IQ, it’s being able to handle it under pressure and think fast and react. Once the game starts, your mind has to shut off. It’s got to be a feel and you react, usually based off the preparation you did throughout the week and your natural feel of the game.”
Colin Kaepernick had his best statistical season since 2013, which was his first full season as the 49ers’ starter. Kaepernick is expected to opt out of his contract in early March. If he does not, then the 49ers would be expected to release him to avoid being on the hook for his scheduled $14.9 million pay.
Lynch said whatever the team decides with Kaepernick, it will be a “football decision.” So is he the kind of quarterback with whom Shanahan wants to work? Does he sit in the pocket and go through his progressions in a way that excites Shanahan? Or does Shanahan value the possibilities of having a quarterback who can gain as many yards with his legs as with his arm?
The 49ers have a new head coach and coaching staff. They have a new general manager and personnel department. The question becomes whether they want to hold onto the same quarterback who has started 58 of the 49ers’ past 71 regular-season games? If they believe he is the best option, the answer is yes.
What would the Niners have to potentially give up to acquire Jimmy Garoppolo from the Pats? (Ronnie Dominguez)
The answer to that is vague yet simple: The 49ers would have to be willing to give up more than the next team.
If the Patriots decide to entertain trade offers for Garoppolo this offseason, the 49ers are set up beautifully to acquire him. No team in the NFL has as much draft capital as the 49ers. So the only way the 49ers do not acquire him is if another team wants him more.
Shanahan made no secret that he placed a very high pre-draft grade on Garoppolo in 2014. This is how he described him:
“He was a very good thrower. Tough guy, kept his eyes down the field, could get rid of the ball fast. Really liked the person. Had a chance to go out to dinner with him and stuff. He played at Eastern Illinois, and it was a different type of offense where you can’t always evaluate with how quick they get rid of the ball. But I really thought he was a very intelligent, tough player with a good throwing motion.”
Garoppolo enters the final year of his original contract with the Patriots. If New England does not maximize his return in a trade, they would likely lose him as a free agent after the 2017 season. And if that’s the case, there’s only the possibility of the Patriots receiving a compensatory pick (no earlier than the 33rd selection of the third round in the 2019 draft).
What are the chances of landing Kirk Cousins? (Misael Guzman)
This decision is entirely up to Washington. If Cousins’ team places the exclusive franchise tag on him, it’s over. If Washington tags him as their non-exclusive franchise player, then there’s some room for the 49ers to maneuver. It would cost two first-round picks, plus a contract that could make him the highest-paid quarterback in the league. Or the 49ers could try to negotiate a lower price with Washington for a trade. It seems a trade for Cousins ranks as the least-likely possibility for the 49ers to land their quarterback this offseason.