Replacing the No. 3 overall pick of the 2021 NFL Draft in just the second game of the 2022 season was not in the cards, not on anyone’s bingo card, whatever analogy that can be thought of. Especially for the man they handed the quarterback reins to for a franchise eyeing a Super Bowl run.
But now, the ’22 season plans will have to move away from catering to the much-hyped second-year QB, as his ankle will force him on the sidelines for the rest of the year according to ESPN NFL insider Adam Schefter.
Now, it’s back to Jimmy Garoppolo, who went 13-of-21 for 154 yards and combined for two touchdowns (one on a QB sneak) in the 27-7 home win over the Seattle Seahawks on Sunday, September 18. But behind Jimmy G? Only Brock Purdy, also known as “Mr. Irrelevant” of the 2022 draft.
Depth is needed. There’s got to be options out there. Interestingly enough, one NFL insider began to reveal some potential names who could be in the mix. One of them? He happens to be a former $103 million quarterback…and a former NFL Most Valuable Player.
Who Mike Florio Mentioned
Pro Football Talk’s Mike Florio immediately began thinking of some names who could add some depth in the QB room in Santa Clara.
One name he immediately ruled out? A popular former 49er who’s spent the last six seasons trying to return to the league in Colin Kaepernick.
But the eye-grabbing name he mentioned? Still available free agent quarterback Cam Newton.
“Available free agents include Cam Newton and Colin Kaepernick (we all know that’s not happening),” Florio mentioned as the first two names in his report.
Why Newton Could Appeal & Why he May Not
So let’s dive into the possibility of Newton.
For starters, he’s got a near similar frame — Newton stands at 6-foot-5 — to the 6-foot-4 Lance. Newton has experience with read option plays throughout his time in the NFL, meaning if 49ers head coach Kyle Shanahan wants to keep some of the plays he specifically designed for Lance on the running side, Newton would be the best beneficiary of those plays if Garoppolo were to go down.
Next, Newton, once paid $103.8 million annually by the Carolina Panthers, was in a similar offense to what Shanahan likes to do: Pound the ball with the run then rely on short to intermediate throws. Even when Newton was on top of his game in the 2015 season (the year he earned the league MVP honor), he was always backed by a 1,000-yard caliber runner in Jonathan Stewart and Christian McCaffrey. So taking part in an offense with an emphasis on the run game isn’t new to Newton.
But, there are aspects of Newton that could turn the 49ers away.
For one, Newton has been hit hard with his own set of injuries. Newton hasn’t played a full regular season schedule since 2017 according to Pro Football Reference. And second, there’s his streak of losses — losing his last five NFL starts. And, since leading the Panthers to their last postseason appearance in 2017, Newton has gone a combined 13-23 overall behind center.
Other Names Mentioned
Florio didn’t just reveal Newton as a possibility.
But along with Kaepernick, there’s another past 49er who’s considered to be ruled out of the mix.
“The 49ers can’t sign a quarterback from the Broncos’ practice squad, since they play Denver in six days. This keeps the 49ers from signing Josh Johnson (who has experience with the 49ers and, really, most other teams) until after next weekend. Johnson is a member of the Denver practice squad,” Florio pointed out.
One other name the 49ers could pursue per Florio: Another Ex-49er in Josh Rosen, who’s currently on the Cleveland Browns’ practice squad.
Newton, though, officially bears watching in the Bay Area.