It's rare that a 25-year-old star quarterback just entering his prime becomes available on the trade market. In fact, it never happens.
That is until a few weeks ago, when Deshaun Watson reportedly formally asked the Houston Texans for a trade. Watson's irritation with the Texans stems from the general manager hiring process that saw Houston turn the keys over the Nick Caserio.
With Watson on the trade block, the 49ers, along with half of the NFL, will be burning up Caserio's phone lines to try and land one of the top four quarterbacks in the NFL.
But whoever wants Watson is going to have to pay an unheard of price, according to NFL Media's Ian Rapoport.
"The Houston Texans, if they do decide to trade Deshaun Watson, are going to get a trade package that is going to be unprecedented," Rapoport said Thursday on NFL Network. "We've seen some big quarterback deals. Jay Cutler in 2009 went for two ones and a starter. It is expected to be more than that.
"This is probably going to rival some of the draft moves with multiple first-rounders. You're talking maybe not two, maybe three first-rounders and players. This is a generational quarterback who is also a great person and a great leader."
Rapoport made it clear that the Texans, as of right now, do not plan on trading Watson and that the package would have to be monumental for them to do so.
"If the Houston Texans decide to part ways with Deshaun Watson, it's going to be because they have no choice, because the package is that big, and because it is something they would use to rebuild the rest of their organization. Again, the Texans have not publicly made that decision."
The 49ers are expected to be players in the quarterback carousel this offseason. While head coach Kyle Shanahan and general manager John Lynch have insinuated that Jimmy Garoppolo will be the starter in 2021, the 49ers will check almost certainly check in on the cost for Watson and Detroit Lions quarterback Matthew Stafford.
A few weeks ago, I discussed four possible trade packages the 49ers could put together for Watson.
Many have balked at the thought of the 49ers trading three first-round picks and a player like Nick Bosa for Watson. Yes, that's a steep price to pay. Bosa already is one of the best edge rushers in the NFL and he's only played in one full season.
But 25-year-old generational quarterbacks are hard to find. Ask the Chicago Bears how long it takes to find a true franchise quarterback. The Bears have been looking for 40 years. The 49ers haven't had someone who fits that mold since Steve Young left. It's much easier to replace a star edge rusher than it is to find a different elite quarterback.
The 49ers passed on drafting Watson in the 2017 NFL Draft, choosing instead to select Solomon Thomas. Can they afford to pass on trading for him if the Texans open the door for a deal?
The Texans should demand a king's ransom and then some to trade Watson, and the 49ers should pay it. They passed on signing Tom Brady last offseason and, even at 43, he's still an elite signal-caller and has the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in the Super Bowl. Meanwhile, the 49ers still are searching for their long-term answer at quarterback.
If Watson truly becomes available and the 49ers don't pay the price, it's a decision they will soon regret.