It did not matter how many times Kyle Shanahan or John Lynch publicly stated their belief that Jimmy Garoppolo would be the 49ers’ starting quarterback this season.
It was difficult to consider their words definitive as long as several veteran options remained available and Garoppolo’s deal was not restructured to all but ensure he would be back in 2021.
But if the 49ers end up signing veteran free-agent quarterback Joe Flacco, that would be considered the team’s strongest statement, yet, that Garoppolo is going nowhere.
Flacco is scheduled to make a visit to Santa Clara to meet with 49ers coaches and team officials. If the 49ers signed him, it certainly would not be with the intention of having him unseat Garoppolo.
Flacco, 36, would represent what the 49ers’ decision-makers view as a step toward upgrading the team’s backup quarterback spot.
Flacco spent 11 seasons as the Baltimore Ravens’ starting quarterback. He was the MVP of Super Bowl XLVII, when he threw for 287 yards and three touchdowns in a 34-31 victory over the 49ers.
He spent the past two seasons with the Denver Broncos and New York Jets, where he started 12 games. He completed 245 of 396 attempts (61.9 percent) for 2,686 yards with 12 touchdowns and eight interceptions in those two years.
At 36, how much of an upgrade is Flacco over Nick Mullens and/or C.J. Beathard?
Mullens last year completed 211 of 326 (64.7 percent) of his passes for 2,437 yards with 12 touchdowns and 12 interceptions. Beathard completed 66 of 104 attempts (63.5 percent) for 787 yards with six touchdowns and no interceptions.
Lynch has said his objective is to “insulate” the team better in case Garoppolo became unavailable for a stretch of the upcoming season.
Few teams in the NFL have bigger holes on their quarterback depth charts. Such players as Andy Dalton (Chicago), Tyrod Taylor (Houston), Jacoby Brissett (Miami) and Ryan Fitzpatrick (Washington) signed with new teams.
The 49ers were thought to be interested in Mitchell Trubisky, who signed a one-year deal on Friday with the Buffalo Bills. Trubisky, at least, is young enough to convince himself he could stick with the 49ers as a longer-term option if he ever got his chance to prove himself during the regular season. Instead, Trubisky goes to a place where Josh Allen figures to be the face of the franchise for a long, long time.
Flacco is a standard pocket passer with little ability to extend plays with his athleticism -- or lack thereof. He would be considered a placeholder at backup quarterback for the 49ers. He has plenty of NFL experience. But it's uncertain whether he would improve the team's ability to win games if a replacement for Garoppolo were needed.
Keeping Garoppolo healthy and productive remains the top objective for 2021.
Currently, Josh Rosen and Josh Johnson are the only other quarterbacks on the 49ers' roster.
Rosen was Tampa Bay's No. 4 quarterback before the 49ers signed him off their practice squad late in the season. Johnson, who turns 35 in May, has appeared in seven NFL games over the past nine years.
Flacco would appear to be a better option than Rosen or Johnson. And he would be no threat to Garoppolo.
But his presence would not change much, either.
If the 49ers wanted to add a quarterback at some point in the draft, there's nothing that would stop them.