Though the San Francisco 49ers are on a roll as of late with Jimmy Garoppolo under center, winning three-straight games since the acquisition of Christian McCaffrey, folks are already looking ahead to the summer of 2023, when the veteran free agent will be allowed to test the open market. Could the 49ers retain Garoppolo’s services long-term?
Potentially so, especially if he takes the team on another deep playoff run, but some, like Cody Benjamin of CBS Sports, have already begun to link the Niners to a certain big-armed quarterback who actually played his collegiate ball not too far from Santa Clara: Aaron Rodgers. Dubbing San Francisco the top destination for the current Green Bay Packers quarterback, Benjamin believes the fit is obvious.
This might sound like a slight to Jimmy Garoppolo, who’s had a truly underrated performance replacing Trey Lance yet again. Jimmy G, in fact, may well be on his way to retaining QB1 duties in 2023. But he’ll be a free agent first, and with Lance still a total unknown, why wouldn’t Kyle Shanahan explore this pairing? He admittedly did it before, calling the Packers about Rodgers’ availability prior to 2021. San Francisco is built to contend, with weapons on both sides of the ball. And Rodgers would surely jump at the opportunity, growing up a 49ers fan in California and famously wishing San Francisco would’ve drafted him in 2005.
Could San Francisco make right their mistake both in 2021 and in 2005 next spring? Only time will tell, but it will certainly be interesting to see where both the player and the franchise are come March.
Christian McCaffrey Has High Praise for His 49ers QB
While some would like nothing more than to see Rodgers under center in a red and white uniform with a golden helmet on top, that doesn’t mean the 49ers should give up on the team they have now. If anything, McCaffrey, one of the newest members of Niners’ roster, has nothing but praise for his new quarterback, as he detailed to Jennifer Lee Chan of NBC Sports Bay Area.
“He is such a talented quarterback,” McCaffrey said. “He doesn’t get enough credit in my eyes, at all. He is a great leader, super smart, can make make any throw and just a great guy to be around. It’s been a lot of fun to be able to pick his brain and mesh with him.”
Now granted, McCaffrey has notoriously been a part of some teams with less than ideal quarterback situations, as he had to play games with Sam Darnold, Baker Mayfield, and P.J. Walker in 2022 alone. Still, game respects game, and McCaffrey believes Garoppolo has game.
Aaron Rodgers Always Been Drawn to the 49ers
On draft night in 2005, Rodgers famously mentioned that he would like to be a member of the 49ers, but a few years later, in an interview with Graham Bensinger in 2010, Rodgers elaborated on those feelings further, as transcribed by Eric Ting of SF Gate.
“There was an article that was done when [the 49ers] were still looking for a coach that said: ‘Hire this guy’ with a picture of Coach [Jeff] Tedford, and ‘Draft this guy’ with a picture of me,” Rodgers said of himself and his former coach at Cal. “I just thought it was the perfect situation. California kid who had been a lifelong Niner fan. I thought at the time I was the most NFL-ready quarterback coming out of college because I played in a pro-style system… I just thought it was meant to be.”
Though there’s no way to go back and rewrite history, as Alex Smith was a very popular prospect in 2005, bringing Rodgers back home for the third act of his career would be a pretty incredible full-circle moment.