The San Francisco 49ers 2022 season is already at a crossroads, with an inconsistent team mired at 3-3 after six games. An enforced change at quarterback has so far yielded only mixed results, with Jimmy Garoppolo reclaiming the reins in place of the injured Trey Lance.
Garoppolo is working his way back to peak form after an unusual offseason, but one injury to the veteran and the Niners’ season would go from indifferent to disastrous. General manager John Lynch and head coach Kyle Shanahan would be wise to invest in some insurance for Garoppolo, and the pair can find a starter-ready backup on the trade market.
One NFL writer has named a trade candidate suited to the West Coast as a good fit for the 49ers.
Trade Candidate a Good Scheme Fit for Niners
Fowler named the 49ers and Los Angeles Rams, “whose passing game coordinator, Zac Robinson, was an accomplished Oklahoma State quarterback like Rudolph,” as the ideal team fits for the 27-year-old signal-caller.
Rudolph’s time in Pittsburgh looks destined to come to an end, with the Steelers “ready to field calls,” per Fowler. It makes sense for the Steelers to want to get something for a quarterback with starter’s experience while Kenny Pickett and Mitchell Trubisky vie to become the permanent successor to Ben Roethlisberger.
Any compensation the Steelers might receive is likely to be modest, despite Rudolph starting 10 games the last three seasons. He went 5-5 as Pittsburgh’s QB1 in 2019 and has a winning record of 9-7-1 for his career, per StatMuse.
As Doug Kyed of Pro Football Focus pointed out, Rudolph has rated at least as highly as Roethlisberger since becoming a starter:
The 49ers have room for an accomplished quarterback who would be ready to step straight into the fray if needed.
Jimmy G Needs a Dependable Backup
No such QB exists on the depth chart while Lance continues to recover from a broken ankle. His absence leaves seventh-round pick Brock Purdy, the last player selected in the 2022 NFL draft, as the next man up.
Purdy suits what Shanahan likes to do on offense, something the ex-Iowa State standout showcased during preseason, according to David Lombardi of The Athletic:
Even though Purdy has his fans, including Shanahan, the safer bet would be to cover Garoppolo with a deputy who has more experience. Rudolph answers that criteria and would surely cost little more than a late-round draft choice, a sixth- or seventh-rounder at the most, to acquire.
If the 49ers did strike a deal, Lynch wouldn’t have to worry too much about taking on a prohibitive salary. Not when Spotrac.com reveals Rudolph is slated to count for just $4.04 million against this year’s salary cap this year, before entering free agency in 2023.
Those are two small prices to pay for a passer with a winning pedigree at this level, with Rudolph offering a reminder of his talents during this preseason:
Leaving Purdy to step in is a risk the 49ers don’t need to take. It’s also one they shouldn’t countenance, especially since Garoppolo has missed 35 games thanks to knee, ankle, calf and thumb injuries during his career in San Francisco.