If the 49ers decide it's time to move on from quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo, they'll have a big question to answer: Is it better to trade for a veteran or invest in a QB in the draft?
Ar full health, the 49ers should be Super Bowl contenders. They reached the ultimate stage a year ago, with Garoppolo as their starting quarterback nonetheless, and have to believe they can do so again next year if the injury bug doesn't take such a big chunk out of their hopes again. But it all starts at QB.
NFL analyst Greg Cosell joined KNBR's "Tolbert, Krueger and Brooks" show Wednesday to talk about the possibility of the 49ers trading for Detroit Lions quarterback Matthew Stafford. The Lions reportedly have agreed to part ways with the 12-year veteran, and Cosell believes Stafford would be "an absolute upgrade" over Jimmy G. He also believes the 49ers would be much smarter to trade for Stafford instead of drafting a young QB this year.
Steve Young is in the same boat.
"I agree," Young said later on the same show. "Untested, young talent versus a kid ... he has been super tested because he's been in Detroit, and I am not joking about that."
Stafford, who turns 33 next month, has thrown for over 4,000 yards eight times. The 49ers haven't had a 4,000-yard passer since Jeff Garcia in 2000. Yet, Stafford has played just three playoff games his entire career.
The Lions don't enhance careers, they end them. Just look at Barry Sanders and Calvin Johnson, two all-time greats who ended their careers early after being stuck in Detroit.
"That's why Matthew, in my mind, we all need to tip our cap to him, regardless of what he does, anything else, if he just retired today," Young said. "I don't tip my cap for everybody. I would tip my cap to that kid for what he's been through, how he propped it up, how relentless he's been, how much he's gotten done."
The 49ers seem like a reasonable fit for Stafford. He would have weapons at his display in George Kittle, Brandon Aiyuk and Deebo Samuel, and a coach in Kyle Shanahan to showcase his skill set. This could be the perfect marriage for coach and QB.
Young believes there's no reason to believe Stafford is on a concerning decline, too.
"He's [going to turn 33 in February]," Young said "Unless there's a shoulder I don't know about, or a knee that I don't know about, or something else that's kind of degrading quickly that won't allow him to play five or six or seven more years and get him close to 40, then that would change everything.
"But let's just say he's generally healthy and can play into 39, 40 years old, there's no question that he is one of those handful of quarterbacks that is generational."
Quarterbacks like Stafford don't often become available. If he was in a bigger market, he would get much more credit. With the 49ers, the whole world would see his talent and there's no reason to believe he wouldn't make them instant contenders again.