The 49ers entered the offseason hoping to find better depth behind starting quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo, and it appears they might have zeroed in on a preferred target.
NFL Media's Mike Garafolo reported Tuesday that the 49ers are "strong contenders" to sign veteran quarterback Andy Dalton. Garafolo also noted that the Chicago Bears are interested in the former Cincinnati Bengals and Dallas Cowboys signal-caller.
With Garoppolo missing 10 games last season due to two separate high ankle sprains, the 49ers were forced to turn to Nick Mullens and C.J. Beathard in relief. Both Mullens and Beathard were underwhelming and general manager John Lynch admitted that with Garoppolo's injury history, the 49ers would need to find a better backup option for 2021.
Dalton played in 11 games for the Cowboys last season and was mediocre. The veteran signal-caller completed 64.9 percent of his passes for 2,170 yards, 14 touchdowns and eight interceptions. Those numbers are comparable to Mullens, who saw action in 10 games for the 49ers, completing 64.7 percent for his passes for 2,437 yards, 12 touchdowns and 12 interceptions.
However, Dalton's ability to take care of the ball and his veteran experience is something that the 49ers could use behind Garoppolo in order to make sure their season isn't flushed down the drain if Garoppolo should have to miss time once again in 2021. Dalton is unspectacular but could provide the 49ers with a more stable option behind Garoppolo.
Another potential backup option was taken off the board Monday when Ryan Fitzpatrick reportedly agreed to a contract with the Washington Football Team. The 49ers also reportedly are interested in bringing in Mitchell Trubisky as a backup quarterback.
Re-signing left tackle Trent Williams and nickelback K'Waun Williams are the 49ers' top priorities at the moment. But filling the backup quarterback spot with a competent veteran who can win games if called upon is an important part of their offseason checklist.
Dalton just might be the guy to check that box.