Ever since Lamar Jackson was slapped with the non-exclusive franchise tag and then explicitly asked for a trade a few weeks later, one question has been discussed by San Francisco 49ers fans more than any other: should John Lynch trade for the disgruntled Baltimore Ravens QB?
Asked this very question during his media session at the NFL annual league meeting on Tuesday, March 28th, by a reporter, Kyle Shanahan finally weighed in on the 49ers’ interest in Baltimore’s MVP-winning quarterback in a response that will certainly draw a mixed response from the fanbase.
“We’ve got three quarterbacks we’re pretty good with right now, and we’re pretty excited about having a better roster salary-cap-wise,” Shanahan said.
Despite entering the offseason relatively tight to the salary cap, Lynch was about to restructure a few contracts and sign one of the top players on the free agent market in no small part because all three of the 49ers’ quarterbacks have a combined cap hit of roughly $14 million, which is $10 million less than former 49ers quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo alone signed for to join the Las Vegas Raiders in 2023, according to Over The Cap. While the 49ers will presumably settle on a quarterback to build the team around long-term, it’s clear Shanahan is happy with the trade-off of having a loaded roster instead of a $40 million signal caller under center.
Kyle Shanahan Considers Having a Deep Roster “Everything”
Discussing the 49ers’ current team-building philosophy further in his time with reporters, Shanahan was asked about what having a deep roster meant to him and gave a very detailed response.
“It’s everything,” Shanahan said. “A couple years ago, we realized some of the players that we had drafted, guys like Fred, guys like Kittle, guys like Deebo, guys like Bosa, Greenlaw; we knew all these guys were coming up. You can’t keep all those guys if you don’t have a quarterback on a rookie deal. So we saw where this was going. We made the decision to go to the rookie quarterback a few years ago, and that was Trey. And that’s what allowed us to sign all these guys.”
As the 49ers witnessed firsthand when they faced off against the Philadelphia Eagles in the NFC Championship game, having an elite quarterback on a rookie contract allows a team to really build out their roster with top-tier players at key positions like cornerback, wide receiver, and in the trenches. Even if the dynamic trio of Brock Purdy, Trey Lance, and Sam Darnold fail to live up to Hurts’ level of play, Shanahan’s play-calling, when coupled with a very quarterback-friendly system, should yield similar results, especially since the team’s ownership is on board with the philosophy.
Jed York Endorses the San Francisco 49ers’ Plan
In the NFL, developing a finely-tuned team-building strategy is important, but only if the team’s ownership group is on board with the idea. Fortunately for Lynch and Shanahan, Jed York, the owner of the 49ers, also believes that building out a strong roster is key to having success with a rookie quarterback, instead of paying eight figures for a player incapable of moving the needle.
“We wanted to be able to have a young quarterback on a rookie contract that allows you to be able to say, all right Javon’s kind of a bonus,” York said via The Athletic. “There’s a delta between what you’re spending on your quarterback versus what everyone is spending on their quarterback. And I hope that one of these guys gets a massive extension with the San Francisco 49ers at some point. But until then, we’re going to make sure that we build this thing around a young quarterback with a very team-friendly contact.”
Will Purdy, Lance, or Darnold ever earn a top-tier contract with the 49ers? Only time will tell, but in the interim, it appears everyone involved approves of San Francisco’s current team-building philosophy, and in March, that’s all that really matters.