A day after The Athletic’s Mike Sando floated the idea of the 49ers trading the team’s starting quarterback to the Cleveland Browns in exchange for WR Odell Beckham Jr., a Wednesday, ESPN’s October 20 column pegged likely trade commodities for all 32 teams, and San Francisco’s listing downplayed the likelihood the Niners’ veteran signal-caller would be shipped out.
Reporter Nick Wagoner wrote that the 49ers have plenty of depth and value along the defensive line, however, and teams looking to add run-stoppers could come calling.
For multiple reasons, it’s hard to see a deal for quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo (and his contract) coming together,” Wagoner wrote under the San Francisco heading titled, “Pick a backup defensive lineman.” “So, we turn to the only position group the Niners have enough depth to deal from. The Niners love their depth on the defensive line, but if a team is willing to offer something for one of their many backup linemen in the final year of his contract – tackles Maurice Hurst, Kentavius Street and Zach Kerr and ends Arden Key and Jordan Willis are up after the season — they’d have to consider it.
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Shanahan ‘Pretty Optimistic’ Garoppolo Will Start in Week 7
How likely a scenario it is that San Francisco would trade Garoppolo, Sando’s column didn’t specify. It took the musings of one unnamed NFL executive, who asked the question hypothetically.
“If you are the Niners and you lose a few games and you are moving on anyway, wouldn’t you try to save (money)?” the unnamed executive posed to Sando in the piece. “It would be curious if someone had their quarterback get injured. Or, say, Carolina if (Sam) Darnold continues to plummet.”
Garoppolo signed a 5-year deal in 2018 worth $137.5 million. He’s missed 24 of 53 starts since inking that contract, but when he has played, he’s been effective. He’s 26-10 as a starter with a passer rating that’s never been below 90 since he arrived in San Francisco in 2017. Garoppolo was on the brink of leading this year’s team to a 3-0 start if it hadn’t been for a last-minute game-winning drive orchestrated by Green Bay Packers QB Aaron Rodgers in the dramatic Week 3 clash.
But Garoppolo is due a lot of money, $24.1 million this year, and it might be financially impossible for any team to take that on.
Meanwhile, all signs point to Garoppolo starting Sunday, October 24 against the Indianapolis Colts. Both Garoppolo and QB2 Trey Lance are nursing lower leg injuries, and Shanahan said on Wednesday during his media availability at the team’s facility that he was “pretty optimistic” Garoppolo would start.
But the trade column was hypothetical, and Sando pointed out in the piece that Shanahan has been reluctant to push the rookie Lance into a starting role. That part seems true to anyone who has been following the team.
The No. 3 overall selection is the future of the franchise, but still undoubtedly young and inexperienced. Lance only just turned 21 years old, has made only one professional regular season start, and played only one full collegiate season for North Dakota State University, a lower-tier member of the Football Championship Series (FCS), where the talent level isn’t as robust as at the Division 1 level.
Still, the crux of the piece wondered that if the 49ers lose their next two games against the Indianapolis Colts and Chicago Bears – both average teams – the 2021 season would essentially be over and the organization would be better off starting to build for the future.
“What if Cleveland traded Odell (Beckham) straight up for Garoppolo?” the NFL executive posed to Sando. “Would San Francisco do that?”
Only a select few people could have the answer to that question – if it ever really gets asked at all.
Highly Touted 49ers Defense Playing up to Billing Despite Early Injuries
Defense has been one of the bright spots for the 49ers this season, and the defensive line unit has depth.
San Francisco’s defense was ranked as high as the No. 2 defense overall heading into the season by a number of media outlets, as highlighted in a September 21 piece by senior reporter Keiana Martin for 49ers.com. Although they were hit hard by injuries in the secondary this year, they’ve still played up to their reputation.
In its weekly NFL defensive unit rankings, sportsnaut.com rated San Francisco’s squad at No. 9 heading into Week 7. San Francisco has allowed the sixth-lowest conversation rate on third downs, 32.76%, and the 11th-lowest yards per pass attempt at 7.0, the website pointed out.
Hurst, Street Kerr, Key and Willis are all in the final year of their contracts and perhaps expendable given San Francisco’s level of depth, as the ESPN piece highlighted, and some of the production might not be missed at all. Hurst, a starter for the Oakland and Las Vegas Raiders a couple of years ago, hasn’t started once since arriving in San Francisco last year, and hasn’t registered a tackle this season.