With NFL free agency right around the corner and the draft inching closer, one thing remains the same for the 49ers. There still are plenty of questions surrounding Jimmy Garoppolo and the 49ers' quarterback position as a whole.
NBC Sports' Chris Simms on Monday morning listed three ways the 49ers can upgrade the position as a whole, including the draft and an interesting trade.
Late last month, general manager John Lynch made his most definitive statement yet about Garoppolo by saying he has no doubt Garoppolo will be the 49ers' starting QB in 2021. But he also made it clear the 49ers need a better Plan B if they want to compete.
“Being available is a big part of this thing,” Lynch said. “So we ... probably as a stated goal ... we have to insulate ourselves better. We got to have better options if he’s not there."
The 49ers are 24-9, including the playoffs, with Jimmy G as their starting quarterback since 2017. But he also has missed 23 games to injury over the last three seasons. Whether it's a veteran or young QB through the draft, San Francisco has to feel more secure if Garoppolo goes down.
And that brings us to option No. 2. Simms has six QBs with first-round grades in this year's draft: Trevor Lawrence, Zach Wilson, Mac Jones, Justin Fields, Trey Lance and Kellen Mond. Lawrence will be the No. 1 pick to the Jacksonville Jaguars. After that, real questions remain. The 49ers might need to trade up for Wilson, Fields, Lance or Jones.
However, if one falls in their lap they should take a long look at adding a long-term answer. They could easily restructure Garoppolo's contract this offseason, groom a young signal-caller behind him in 2021 and then get rid of Garoppolo next offseason. Getting a QB on a rookie contract is an NFL team's golden ticket. This is the 49ers' chance to do so.
And now, Simms' third and final option. This isn't the first time Darnold has been connected to the 49ers. There have been rumblings about Kyle Shanahan being high on him, with rumors the 49ers could look at Darnold as a backup option to Garoppolo or as a cheaper starting QB. Darnold hasn't been close to the quarterback the New York Jets hoped they were getting when they selected him with the No. 3 pick in the 2018 NFL Draft. But he has been stuck in football hell and still is just 23 years old.
Robert Saleh and the Jets aren't going to give Darnold away for nothing. If he is available and Shanahan does like his skill set, going after the USC product makes sense. Darnold is six years younger than Garoppolo and far cheaper. His contract costs just $4.7 million next season, which would help the 49ers sign other players, including their own key free agents. Surrounding Darnold with George Kittle, Brandon Aiyuk, Deebo Samuel and other weapons could see Darnold finally fulfill his potential.
There's the real possibility the 49ers stick with Garoppolo and pass on a QB in the first round of the draft. What they can't do is ignore the position as a whole. It has to improve from top to bottom, and these three options do make that happen.