The San Francisco 49ers are still in the playoffs and one win away from a Super Bowl appearance, but the speculation for next season hasn’t stopped.
The discussion has primarily orbited around the quarterback position and what the 49ers are going to do with veteran QB Jimmy Garoppolo and rookie QB Trey Lance. Garoppolo has maintained the starting job this year after Lance was drafted as the No. 3 overall pick in the 2021 NFL Draft.
The Niners are expected to move on from Jimmy G this offseason, but many expect them to commit to a future with Lance. ESPN host Mike Greenberg has another idea. On Wednesday, Greenberg made the pitch for Green Bay Packers QB Aaron Rodgers to lead the 49ers in 2022.
“I’m going to bring up [Brooklyn Nets star] Kevin Durant,” Greenberg said. “If you can’t beat ’em, join ’em. You know what? Kevin Durant went to Golden State because he couldn’t get through them. I think Rodgers is gonna go to San Francisco. Go ahead… He’s 0-4 against them in the playoffs. That’s his hometown, so he grew up in Northern California. They should’ve drafted him No. 1 all those years ago. Let’s right that wrong. They’ve got Jimmy Garoppolo. He may win the Super Bowl, and yet, still, I think they need a different quarterback.”
Fans need no introduction to Rodgers, who, as Greenberg mentioned, suffered his fourth postseason loss to the 49ers in last Saturday’s 13-10 win at Lambeau Field in the Divisional Round.
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Rodgers’ California Context
The 2020 NFL MVP has been synonymous with the Packers since he won the Super Bowl in 2011, but his background as a California Bear was integral to Rodgers’ profile coming into the NFL.
Born in Chico, the future Packer initially attended Butte Community College in the area before making his way to Cal. With the Bears, he nearly threw for 5500 passing yards over two years and added a 43-to-13 TD/INT ratio per SR CFB.
There’s not much to be said about Rodgers’ NFL career that hasn’t already been said. At 38, he is still one of the elite QBs in the NFL, and one could make the case he’s the outright best. It feels like a California return would make sense for Rodgers, and if he’s legitimately interested, the 49ers would have to consider trading for him.
49ers and Packers’ Financial Situations
Let’s say Rodgers hits the market and the 49ers are interested. What next? It’s kind of hard to tell, especially since the 49ers may not even deal Garoppolo to the Packers in return. They don’t have to, anyways.
If the Packers feel good about QB Jordan Love, they may not want Jimmy G’s gargantuan salary cap hit, which is estimated to hit just under $27 million in 2022, per Spotrac. The Packers are also set to be $46 million over budget this offseason, so even getting rid of Rodgers’ $46 million-a-year hit doesn’t make things easy.
But if they did want Jimmy G, the 49ers would be spending a lot of their financial fluidity this offseason on Rodgers and would need to make adjustments elsewhere accordingly. Even subtracting Jimmy G’s contract, the Niners would only have $37 million in cap space in 2022.
There’s definitely ways to work around a contract like Rodgers’, but the 49ers would be limiting themselves in terms of improving the team elsewhere.