Jordan Love

Steve Young hilariously didn't sweat 49ers picking Jim Druckenmiller

Steve Young hilariously didn't sweat 49ers picking Jim Druckenmiller

Steve Young was in Aaron Rodgers’ position two decades ago, as an incumbent starting quarterback nearing the end of his career with a first-round pick breathing down his neck.

If Jordan Love, the QB the Green Bay Packers traded up to pick No. 26 overall in the 2020 NFL Draft, is anything like Jim Druckenmiller, who the 49ers selected at No. 27 in 1997, then the 36-year-old Rodgers has nothing to worry about.

“I went out the first practice to watch Jim throw, and I'm like, 'I'm fine. We’re good.’ ” Young quipped to former 49ers coach and current NFL Media analyst Steve Mariucci on Tuesday.

Druckenmiller didn’t exactly push Young. He completed just under 36 percent of his passes in his lone NFL start in 1997, a 15-12 49ers win. Young, meanwhile, made his sixth straight Pro Bowl.

The 49ers traded Druckenmiller to the Miami Dolphins for a seventh-round pick just before the 1999 season, using it to select long-snapper Brian Jennings. Druckenmiller didn’t play another down in an NFL regular-season game, later spending time in the Arena Football League and the first iteration of the XFL.

It helped that the 49ers had found Young’s short-term successor after whiffing on his long-term one. San Francisco signed Jeff Garcia, fresh off a Grey Cup win, to back up Young in 1999. Garcia started 10 games that season, and he was the 49ers’ starter when Young retired after that season.

[RELATED: How Jimmy G's scheduled New England return has lost luster]

Druckenmiller wasn’t the 49ers’ last miss on a quarterback, either, as they also drafted Giovanni Carmazzi ahead of Tom Brady and passed on Rodgers with the No. 1 pick in 2005. Assuming Jimmy Garoppolo starts for the 49ers in Week 1 this season, he’ll be the fourth San Francisco QB (Garcia, Alex Smith and Colin Kaepernick are the others) to start three consecutive season openers since Young retired.

Garcia, an undrafted free agent who began his professional career in the CFL, was the last to start four. The Packers better hope Rodgers doesn’t get the same feeling in his first practice with Love as Young had with Druckenmiller, as the 49ers haven’t ever truly found a long-term replacement.

49ers make sense for Aaron Rodgers if he leaves Packers, Colin Cowherd says

49ers make sense for Aaron Rodgers if he leaves Packers, Colin Cowherd says

It has been theorized that the 49ers' decision to trade up and draft receiver Brandon Aiyuk could indirectly lead to a divorce between Aaron Rodgers and the Green Bay Packers. And if the franchise quarterback departs from the only franchise he has ever known, it wouldn't be surprising if San Francisco looked into bringing Rodgers back to the Bay Area, much like the 49ers recently considered doing with Tom Brady.

Now, obviously, a few things likely would have to occur in order for that scenario to play out. For one, San Francisco would have to come to the conclusion that it was time to move on from Jimmy Garoppolo, whose contract the 49ers can easily rid themselves of after the 2020 season if they so wish. Additionally, Rodgers' relationship with the Packers would have to continue to deteriorate to the point that Green Bay was motivated to end its partnership with the legendary QB.

The latter seems more likely than the former -- certainly so at the present moment -- but it's not unreasonable to envision a scenario in which Rodgers is starting behind center for the 49ers in the not-too-distant future. And, if Rodgers plays for a second team other than Green Bay, Fox Sports' Colin Cowherd views San Francisco as one of three logical destinations for the former Cal product.

"Garoppolo has been hurt a couple times," Cowherd said Thursday on "The Herd". "[Coach] Kyle Shanahan is tired of losing big games. He's tired of being in those Super Bowls as a head coach or coordinator and losing leads. Aaron ... played at Cal ... house in Malibu. 49ers in two years, Garoppolo gets hurt or underachieves, contract's over. Boom."

Along with the 49ers, Cowherd mentioned the Los Angeles Chargers and New Orleans Saints as potential landing spots for Rodgers, whether it be taking over for an underperforming Justin Herbert or replacing another legendary QB in Drew Brees. In any case, Cowherd assumes that Rodgers isn't going anywhere for at least two years, due to his large cap hit. And while that's generally a good bet, Cowherd isn't entirely correct.

[49ERS INSIDER PODCAST: Listen to the latest episode]

Rodgers will be the Packers' starting quarterback in 2020. Financially, it doesn't make any sense for Green Bay to cut or trade him during the 2020 league year. However, as soon as March 2021, the Packers could cut or trade Rodgers and generate considerable cap space in doing so. As Over The Cap's Jason Fitzgerald excellently summarized, as a general rule, the longer Rodgers remains with the Packers, the more it will make sense for Green Bay to move on from him.

If the Packers trade Rodgers prior to March 19, 2021, they would free up about $4.8 million in cap space. Depending on how significantly league revenue is impacted by the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, that might not be chump change. Rodgers will have just turned 37, and surely would still bring back significant value in a trade.

But, if Green Bay holds onto Rodgers for just a few additional months, that's when the major cap savings would kick in. If the Packers were to cut Rodgers as a post-June 1 designation in 2021, the resulting dead money would be split fairly evenly over the ensuing two seasons, and Green Bay would generate $22 million in cap space.

If the Packers were to retain Rodgers for the next two seasons as Cowherd assumes and then cut or trade him, the dead-money hit would be cut nearly in half, and Green Bay would create nearly $22.7 million in cap space. In theory, that would also coincide with the timing in which the Packers were ready to hand the reigns over to Jordan Love.

The 49ers have every reason to have confidence in Garoppolo, and Shanahan anticipates he'll put together the best season if his career in 2020. It's Super Bowl or bust for San Francisco, but even if Garoppolo has an MVP-like season, if the team falls short of its goal, his seat will be hot.

[RELATED: Williams looks forward to rejoining Shanahan with 49ers]

The fact that Rodgers and the Packers appear to be approaching the end of their partnership is unlikely to cool it down.

NFL rumors: 49ers traded up to get ahead of Packers for Brandon Aiyuk

NFL rumors: 49ers traded up to get ahead of Packers for Brandon Aiyuk

The general consensus is that the 49ers had a good 2020 NFL Draft, while the Green Bay Packers, to put it lightly, did not. One team adjusted on the fly as well as could be expected, whereas the other might have panicked -- and flubbed.

Rather than alter their draft plans to fill the need created by Joe Staley's surprise retirement, the 49ers stuck to their guns, drafted two foundational pieces in the first round and still managed to upgrade at left tackle with the trade for Trent Williams. One of those two foundational pieces -- wide receiver Brandon Aiyuk -- required San Francisco to trade up from No. 31 overall to No. 25, as the team believed he wouldn't last until the end of the first. According to The Athletic's David Lombardi, the 49ers believed the Packers, in particular, were targeting the Arizona State standout.

Having been soundly defeated by San Francisco in the NFC Championship Game, Green Bay originally sat immediately in front of the 49ers in the first-round draft order, holding the 30th overall pick. Obviously, San Francisco jumped the Packers in the order with trade to move up to 25, securing one of coach Kyle Shanahan's favorite receivers in the draft. Then, with Aiyuk off the board, Green Bay traded up from 30 to 26 and drafted Utah State quarterback Jordan Love.

The Packers' decision to trade up and draft Aaron Rodgers' successor, rather than a new weapon for him, has been heavily criticized since the moment it happened. It was the beginning of a questionable-at-best draft as a whole, in which Green Bay arguably acquired zero players capable of making a significant immediate impact. In what many considered to be the most loaded receiver class of all time, the Packers came away with precisely one pass-catcher -- an undersized tight end who was a reach in the third round.

Maybe Green Bay was planning on drafting Love all along. Rodgers will turn 37 in December, and he's not getting any younger. Then again, the Packers were one game away from the Super Bowl last season, and it would seem to have made much more sense to address what inefficiencies were responsible for falling short. Drafting a quarterback who won't see the field unless Rodgers isn't on it surely didn't accomplish that.

[RELATED: Why 49ers might consider Rodgers like they did with Brady]

We'll never know if Green Bay would have taken Aiyuk if given the chance to do so -- San Francisco made sure of that.

However, that pick would have made a lot more sense than the one the Packers ultimately did end up making, and based on what transpired after, it's not unreasonable to infer that the 49ers' trade-up for Aiyuk might have thrown them off their game.

[49ERS INSIDER PODCAST: Listen to the latest episode]