The first blockbuster trade of 2021 reportedly has been agreed to in principle as Matthew Stafford has been dealt to the Los Angeles Rams for Jared Goff and a package of draft picks.
The 49ers were reportedly interested in the 32-year-old quarterback who mutually agreed to part ways with the Detroit Lions earlier this week. San Francisco will now face Stafford twice a season as a member of their NFC West division rival.
The Rams agreeing to a trade for Stafford leaves the 49ers much more likely to head into the 2021 season with Jimmy Garoppolo under center. The price tag for Stafford reportedly two future first-round picks and a third-round selection in 2021.
Both Houston Texans star Deshaun Watson and Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers, who have been mentioned in trade rumors, would likely cost significantly more than Stafford. While anything remains possible, the 49ers' track record does not include giving substantial draft capital for a single player.
Trading multiple first round picks for a talented and high profile quarterback could offer some immediate benefits for an organization, but the long-term costs could be debilitating for their future.
Watson reportedly has requested a trade from the Texans but he is under contract with the team through 2025. A trade for the 25-year-old quarterback could cost a team multiple draft packs and maybe even players.
Rodgers is 37 years old, but a proven winner and two-time league MVP. The Packers' quarterback is under contract through the 2023 season but discussed his uncertain future immediately following his team’s loss in the NFC Championship Game last weekend. Rodgers back-pedaled a bit later in the week.
While the thought of acquiring a quarterback with more mobility or experience might be attractive to 49ers fans, the team already has an effective quarterback in Jimmy Garoppolo. The 29-year-old quarterback led his team to Super Bowl LIV just one season ago.
When Garoppolo started all 16 games in 2019, the team had a 13-3 regular season record. He led the team to two playoff wins and and came within seven minutes of the franchise’s sixth Lombardi trophy.
In 2020, Garoppolo went 3-3 but he played four of his six starts with a high ankle sprain that nearly required surgery. When healthy, the franchise quarterback has proven he can be very effective with a career record of 24-8.
The 49ers currently have 10 selections in the 2021 draft, seven in 2022 and eight in 2023. Not only does sticking with Garoppolo save the 49ers from losing draft capital, it offers consistency and stability for the offense.
Garoppolo has experience with George Kittle, Deebo Samuel, Raheem Mostert and Brandon Aiyuk, and their chemistry will only improve with more time together. Would Stafford, Watson or Rodgers be an upgrade? Maybe, but the cost could prove disastrous in the future.