The talk around the 49ers the last few months has been about who will be the starting quarterback next season.
A large portion of 49ers fans are ready to move on from Jimmy Garoppolo and want a fresh start with a new quarterback.
But if general manager John Lynch and coach Kyle Shanahan decide to stick with Garoppolo this offseason, the 49ers still must decide what to do at the backup quarterback position? Do they keep Nick Mullens and C.J. Beathard? Do they keep one? Have they seen enough to move on from both?
NBC Sports Bay Area analyst and former 49ers linebacker Takeo Spikes joined Matt Maiocco on the latest episode of 49ers Talk and wondered if a former NFL MVP would be a good option to serve as a backup for the 49ers.
"So we saw what happened in New England," Spikes said. "Cam Newton got benched the other night. Didn't finish. Didn't play well. And it's like, what are the possibilities that Cam Newton may have to come in as a backup role? I don't know. But what if he's brought to come to the 49ers? I don't know. I'm just saying."
Newton, the No. 1 overall draft pick in 2011 and the 2015 MVP, has had a rocky first season with the Patriots. In 14 games, he's completed 221 of 338 passes (65.4 completion percentage) for 2,415 yards. He has thrown just five touchdowns while being intercepted 10 times. New England will miss the playoffs for the first time since 2008.
While Maiocco believes there will be a lot of quarterback options on the free agent market due to the shrinking salary cap, he could see Lynch and Shanahan taking a chance on Newton on a low salary, similar to what Beathard or Mullens are making this season.
"I think the 49ers should keep one of those guys, Mullens or Beathard," Maiocco said. "And with Mullens, we're talking perhaps a six-month recovery from that elbow injury. But I do think it's not the worst thing in the world to bring in somebody like him, somebody that's started a lot of NFL games. And then, roll the balls out there and let him compete. You don't bring in a guy like that and say 'You will be the backup or you will be doing this.' It's competition.
"If Jimmy's back, there's no question, he's the starter. No question. You can't have that competition for the starting job."
Spikes acknowledged that there's little chance Newton would join the 49ers if Garoppolo remains in San Francisco, but Maiocco wouldn't rule it out.
"But the question is, would Cam accept a backup role behind a quarterback who has been injured almost as much as he's been healthy the past three seasons?" Maiocco said. "I think Kyle Shanahan would want a quarterback who is comfortable making plays from the pocket, and as far as the element of athleticism or being able to tuck the ball under your arm and run with it, that's kind of an added bonus."
Newton went to New England to try to rebuild his value ahead of free agency this offseason. Clearly he hasn't done that and likely will be in line for another one-year, low-salary contract. If there isn't a starting job out there for the former Auburn star, backing up Garoppolo might not be a bad option.
A Garoppolo-Newton tandem probably isn't what the unhappy 49ers fans have in mind for the 2021 season. But the idea appeals to Spikes and Maiocco could see a scenario where it happens. So don't count it just because it seems far-fetched.