Would 49ers be interested in Jimmy G-OBJ trade at deadline?

Jimmy Garoppolo

The 49ers exit their bye week at 2-3 and in need of a u-turn if they plan to make the playoffs and contend for the Super Bowl.

How the 49ers play over the next two weeks will not only set the course for the rest of their season but also will determine what moves, if any, they make ahead of the Nov. 2 NFL trade deadline.

The NFL trade deadline isn't normally the blockbuster bonanza that the NBA deadline is, but an NFL exec floated an interesting possibility to The Athletic's Mike Sando in a pre-deadline column. The anonymous exec wondered if the 49ers would be willing to send quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo to Cleveland for star wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr.

“What if Cleveland traded Odell (Beckham) straight up for Garoppolo?” an exec asked Sando. “Would San Francisco do that? I actually don’t know how many teams would want Odell. It’s a big win for Cleveland if they can get his money off the books.”

Of course, this is just the exec spitballing about a potential landing spot for Garoppolo should the 49ers turn the offense over to rookie Trey Lance and want to get the rest of Garoppolo's $25 million salary-cap hit off their books. At the moment, however, Lance is recovering from a knee sprain suffered in Week 5 and head coach Kyle Shanahan remains set on sticking with Garoppolo under center, believing the veteran gives the 49ers the best chance to contend this season.


Does that equation change when Lance is healthy and if the 49ers continue to struggle in their next two games against the Indianapolis Colts and Chicago Bears? Perhaps.

Of course, this deal only materializes if a number of things line up.

First, the 49ers would have to decide they are better served by letting Lance play the remainder of the season than Garoppolo. That appears unlikely.

Secondly, the Browns would have to have a need for a quarterback. With Baker Mayfield currently playing through what he described as a fully torn labrum in his non-throwing shoulder, that could become a possibility if the Browns either decide to shut Mayfield down or his play continues to suffer because of the injury.

The third and final part is the 49ers would have to want to take on Beckham's contract. Beckham has a salary cap hit of $15.75 million this season and $15 million in 2022 and 2023. However, the 49ers could cut Beckham for no dead money after the 2021 season.

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The 49ers are in need of another dynamic receiving threat to pair with Deebo Samuel, especially with George Kittle on IR and Brandon Aiyuk struggling.

However, the 49ers are hopeful Aiyuk will elevate his game soon and taking on Beckham's contract doesn't serve their need to clear money for the upcoming extensions of Nick Bosa and Samuel.

A Garoppolo-for-Beckham swap is an interesting thought experiment, and in a vacuum, it's easy to see how such a deal would make both teams better. Beckham has struggled with the Browns and his chemistry with Mayfield never developed. A change of scenery would do him well, and Shanahan should be able to scheme him open in the same way he does Kittle and Samuel.

The Browns also have lost two straight and Mayfield's shoulder clearly is impacting his play. At 3-3, the Browns could use a reliable, veteran quarterback to pilot the offense in relief of the banged-up Mayfield. Garoppolo, for all of his warts, is a quality NFL starter who can orchestrate an attack and lead a team to the playoffs if there is talent around him.

The deal also would allow the 49ers to begin the Lance era and give the raw rookie much-needed developmental reps on Sundays.

But at this point, such a deal doesn't even come close to approaching reality.

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