Based on what has transpired so far this season, it's fair to say the 49ers might regret not signing Tom Brady in free agency. They instead chose to keep their faith in Jimmy Garoppolo, and that might not have been the wise move.
Garoppolo’s season likely is over after he sustained a new injury to the same ankle that he sprained earlier in the season, and there’s no guarantee he ever throws another pass for the 49ers. He has not taken the step forward that they had hoped for, and considering his contract essentially is a team option for next season, you can be sure San Francisco will be surveying the QB market over the coming months.
But why wait that long? Why not start on Thursday night, when a potentially available quarterback that is both better and younger than Brady takes the field at Levi’s Stadium with the Green Bay Packers?
The 49ers unquestionably regret not drafting Aaron Rodgers first overall in 2005. Could they finally get him more than a decade later to take over for Garoppolo?
“I think the 49ers would love to have Aaron Rodgers,” NBC Sports’ Chris Simms told NBC Sports Bay Area. “I don't think there's any doubt about that. I mean, he would be the perfect fit for Kyle Shanahan's offense. Really, Aaron Rodgers fits in any offense. It doesn't matter. We're talking about, in my opinion, the greatest quarterback I've ever seen in my life.
“It's the greatest quarterback of all time -- that's how highly I think of Aaron Rodgers. And I know a lot of people will go, 'Well, what about Tom Brady? He won six Super Bowls.' Well, I think if Aaron Rodgers is on New England, they would have won more than six Super Bowls. That’s just the way I feel about him.”
Rodgers currently is in the third year of a lucrative contract extension signed in 2018 and is owed a $6.8 million roster bonus on March 19, 2021. Let’s say Green Bay’s season goes south in a hurry and they decide it’s time to start a new generation of Packers football -- they did just draft his replacement, after all. The Packers could get out of the remainder of Rodgers’ contract at that point, albeit while incurring a huge $31.5 million dead money hit.
The 49ers could sign Rodgers outright in free agency in that situation. However, considering that large chunk of change, the odds are astronomically against it occurring. Of course, if the Packers wanted to move on from Rodgers and avoid all that dead money, they could always trade him, thereby getting something of value in return.
San Francisco’s interest in trading for Rodgers obviously would depend on the asking price. However, Simms doesn’t envision a scenario in which Green Bay would make him available.
“That would be awesome,” Simms added. “… I would love to see that. But, I mean, Green Bay’s crazy. And they were crazy not to draft more talent around Aaron Rodgers this year. And they were crazy stupid to draft Jordan Love in the first round. But they’re not that crazy to where they’re going to trade Aaron Rodgers yet, so I don’t think that’s realistic.”
It seems incredibly unlikely that Rodgers will be the 49ers’ quarterback next season. However, the task of acquiring him would become far less challenging the following offseason. Given that he shows no signs of slowing down, we can assume the 49ers would still be interested in him at that point.
The question is, can they afford to wait that long?