The 49ers already have been linked to quite a few veteran quarterbacks in free-agent rumors since the end of the season.
Many are expecting San Francisco to explore options for an upgrade over Jimmy Garoppolo, who has only played in 25 of 48 regular-season games due to injuries the past three seasons. Even though Garoppolo is merely 12 months removed from taking the 49ers to Super Bowl LIV, many hold doubts he is fit to take them on another deep postseason run going forward.
In a mailbag with NFL fans for Sports Illustrated, Albert Breer addressed the notion that teams around the league don't think highly of Garoppolo.
“I don’t know if I’d say the NFL is generally low on Jimmy Garoppolo,” Breer wrote Wednesday. “More so, I think he’s seen in the class of guys like Jared Goff and Derek Carr. Fair or not, those quarterbacks are seen as players who succeed if everything’s right around them -- but not the type who can lift teammates up and make up the difference for holes on the roster. That’s not an insult, either. But it’s not as good to be that guy as it used to be.”
Matthew Stafford was widely viewed as the most obtainable quality veteran quarterback on the market this offseason before he was acquired by the Los Angeles Rams. Deshaun Watson figures to command a massive trade package after the Detroit Lions received Jared Goff, two first-round picks and a third-rounder for Stafford. Aaron Rodgers has tempered his statements that hinted he may be seeking an exit from the Green Bay Packers.
Breer offered up another route for the 49ers to consider: Find a younger option than the 29-year-old Garoppolo.
“I’d say, if the Niners were to move off of Jimmy G., it will be in an effort to get younger at the position,” Breer wrote. “So it could be someone like Sam Darnold -- who I think the Niners like, though I’m not sure to what degree -- or a draft pick.”
Darnold will turn 24 on June 5 and is under contract for one more season with the New York Jets. There is a stable of elite college quarterbacks eligible for this year’s NFL Draft, but they might not be available by the time the 49ers pick with the No. 12 overall selection.