Could the San Francisco 49ers welcome two past top five draft picks in the same position group?
That’s the idea from NFL writer Kristopher Knox of Bleacher Report, who delivered his “firework trade ideas” on the Fourth of July.
Knox’s proposal: The 49ers finally move on from quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo for the first time in the era of general manager John Lynch and head coach Kyle Shanahan. But who the 49ers get in return is a veteran quarterback…who has been to the postseason but is also the subject of trade talks due to a polarizing career.
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Trade Lures in Ex-Top Pick Baker Mayfield
Knox’s idea that will surely be the NFL version of launching fireworks: The 49ers get Baker Mayfield in exchange with the Cleveland Browns.
That’s right, the former top pick of the 2018 NFL Draft who has had a rather star-crossed career in Cleveland comes in as the backup to Trey Lance, the No. 3 overall pick of the 2021 draft.
“The 49ers are likely to try trading Garoppolo once he’s recovered from offseason shoulder surgery enough to pass a physical. According to Jeremy Fowler, Garoppolo is expected to resume throwing in the next few weeks,” Knox said.
But there’s another reason why Jimmy G has been linked to the Browns.
“The Cleveland Browns, meanwhile, don’t know the future of Deshaun Watson,” Knox said. “The former Houston Texans quarterback faces league discipline under the personal conduct policy stemming from 24 lawsuits from women accusing him of sexual misconduct or assault. The league wrapped his disciplinary hearing last week and awaits the decision of Judge Sue L. Robinson.
“In this scenario, the Browns get their insurance in Garoppolo, who was good enough to guide San Francisco to the NFC title game last season,” Knox continued. “In a player-for-player swap, San Francisco would take on Mayfield and his $18.9 million salary. This would save roughly $8 million off the 2022 cap while adding a starting-caliber quarterback behind second-year signal-caller Trey Lance.”
Could Lance & Mayfield Co-Exist?
Mayfield is up for a change of scenery. That’s a given — especially with Mayfield telling ESPN on June 28 that he’s “ready to move on” from the Browns.
Like Garoppolo, Mayfield has had his name linked to the Seattle Seahawks and the Carolina Panthers as late trade possibilities. The former team, however, has witnessed head coach Pete Carroll state his belief in Drew Lock and Geno Smith. The latter team, meanwhile, has another past top five pick in Sam Darnold. However, following mixed results from Darnold last season, Pro Football Focus analyst Doug Kyed said “It’s unclear what the Panthers would do with Sam Darnold if they acquire Mayfield, but trading for the Browns’ discontent quarterback would give Carolina a much higher ceiling this season.”
If somehow Lynch, Shanahan and company orchestrate the “fireworks” and decide to lure in Mayfield, it’ll be considered a gamble among numerous 49er fans considering how Mayfield is still very young for an NFL QB and has thrown for 3,000 yards in every season. There’s also questions of whether or not the polarizing Mayfield would be fine with serving as the No. 2 on the depth chart.
Mayfield, though, shares this in common with Garoppolo: He’s played with stout running games. He’s had Nick Chubb, Kareem Hunt and D’Ernest Johnson sharing the load. Garoppolo has operated with his own running back rotation — a rotation that Lance will likely work with.
Roster wise, Knox sees both the 49ers and Browns as suitable fits for the embattled signal-callers.
“San Francisco and Cleveland both have talented rosters and should be in the championship mix if they stay healthy and can get steady quarterback play. A Mayfield-for-Garoppolo trade would help ensure that each franchise has quarterback insurance while allowing the 49ers and Browns to move on from players they no longer want,” Knox said.