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Ex-Shanahan QB details why Stafford wouldn't need to carry 49ers

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The 49ers have Jimmy Garoppolo under contract for the next two seasons.

And as coach Kyle Shanahan suggested late in the season, the 49ers only would think about acquiring another quarterback this offseason if they believe it would lead to a significant upgrade for the team.

So . . . does Matthew Stafford qualify as a player the 49ers should pursue?

“Yes,” former 12-year NFL quarterback Sage Rosenfels, who played with the Houston Texans under Shanahan from 2006 to ’08, told NBC Sports Bay Area.

Rosenfels, appearing on "49ers Talk", said he believes Garoppolo is a good NFL starting quarterback. But he concludes that Stafford is a cut above.

“He’s athletic enough,” Rosenfels said of Stafford. “He’s got the big arm. He doesn’t miss a lot of throws and he’s gutsy. He’s a very gutsy guy, and I know Kyle loves that. At the end of the day, he likes it when guys are aggressive and gutsy.”

The Detroit Lions reportedly are listening to trade proposals for Stafford after the sides recently agreed to part ways this offseason.

Stafford was the No. 1 overall pick of the Lions in 2009, and Detroit now is looking for a change of course under new general manager Brad Holmes and head coach Dan Campbell.

Stafford, who turns 33 on Super Bowl Sunday, also is ready to move on after failing to receive much support from the organization for more than a decade.


“Matthew Stafford has had to carry that franchise and that football team on his back for (12 years),” Rosenfels said. “They’ve never had a good defense. They rarely had a good running game. They haven’t had a first-class operation and coaching staff. They play in a tough division, as well.”

Kyle Shanahan’s father, Mike, won two Super Bowls with John Elway at quarterback. Rosenfels also cited examples of teams winning immediately after acquiring established, veteran quarterbacks, including the Super Bowl-bound Tampa Bay Buccaneers this season with Tom Brady.

“A really good veteran quarterback put all of a sudden on a talented, very-well-coached, very-well-run organization and football team, you do see some guys having a ton of success in those situations,” Rosenfels said. “And he (Stafford) wouldn’t have to carry the football team on his back any more.”

Stafford threw for more than 4,000 yards in eight of the past 10 seasons with the Lions. The 49ers have not had a 4,000-yard passer since Jeff Garcia in 2000.

Garoppolo has started more than six games just once in his career. That came in 2019, when the 49ers advanced to the Super Bowl.

The 49ers rode their running game and defense through the NFC playoffs and into the Super Bowl a year ago.

RELATED: Young prefers 49ers trade for Stafford over drafting QB

In 17-point playoff victories over Minnesota and Green Bay, Garoppolo threw for a combined 208 yards with one touchdown and one interception.

Rosenfels said he believes Stafford would benefit greatly from fitting into an overall team concept.

“He could just be a part of the offense, not the offense,” Rosenfels said. “And that’s where Kyle’s system allows guys to be pretty successful and just be an important part of the offense — the most-important piece — but they don’t have to carry the whole thing on his back, and Stafford has done that so much.”

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