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49ers must monitor Watson situation, no matter likelihood

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The top decision-makers in the 49ers organization came about as close as possible in the past two weeks to guaranteeing Jimmy Garoppolo’s return.

Coach Kyle Shanahan and general manager John Lynch left the door only slightly ajar for an unforeseen circumstance to impact the top of the team’s quarterback depth chart.

Deshaun Watson’s possible push to force a trade from the Houston Texans certainly qualifies as a development worth monitoring.

Watson’s widely reported discontent with the Texans comes just four months after he signed a lucrative extension through the 2026 season.

It seems unlikely the Texans would trade Watson so soon after paying him a $27 million signing bonus. If Watson were traded, he would still count $21.6 million against the Texans' 2021 cap, which is a $5.66 million increase over his currently scheduled amount.

The bigger deterrent for the Texans is the fact that they already have one of the league's best players to build around.

Of course, the 49ers would want him.

At least half the teams in the NFL would love to add Watson, 25, who has many, many years of great football ahead of him.

Watson’s contract is not an issue for the 49ers. He would rate as a bargain with a cap figure of $10.5 million for the coming season.

The major expense would come in the form of draft picks and players to be packaged along with Garoppolo.


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The Houston Texans hired former New England executive Nick Caserio last week as general manager. Caserio had a hand in selecting Garoppolo in the second round of the 2014 draft.

But Caserio does not seem receptive to the idea of placing Watson on the trade block. During his first introductory video conference with the Houston media, Caserio said of Watson, “He's our quarterback.”

Lynch said something nearly identical about Garoppolo.

Those words -- from Caserio and Lynch -- are not indelible. Things change.

The Texans still do not have a head coach. The first order of business for the new coach will be to get things right with Watson. If that’s not possible, Watson could be the rare franchise quarterback to force his way out.

If it gets to that point, the Texans will have plenty of teams interested in making a deal.

Watson has missed one game in the past three seasons. He completed 70.2 percent of his pass attempts while throwing for an NFL-high 4,823 yards with 33 touchdowns and seven interceptions this season. He also rushed for 44 yards and three touchdowns.

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Does Caserio think highly of Garoppolo? One would assume. Does the next head coach like Garoppolo? There’s no telling.

Do other teams have more to offer the Texans in a trade? Yes.

The 49ers have picks at Nos. 12 and 43 overall this year, and no third-round selection.

Shanahan, while on one hand supporting Garoppolo, also made it known during the final week of the season the 49ers were in a constant state of trying to improve at every position. That is only said if there is a reasonable possibility an improvement can be made.

All things considered, it seems unlikely the 49ers will determine there is a reasonable path toward an upgrade at quarterback without crippling the team’s ability to field a competitive team around him.

And that is likely where everything ends with the possibility of acquiring Watson -- assuming the Texans even get to the point of fielding offers.

A year ago, the 49ers had a dalliance with Tom Brady during free agency.

If doing their homework on Brady was on the table after a Super Bowl season, it only stands to reason the 49ers must closely monitor the Watson situation over the next two months.