Former San Francisco 49ers’ legend Steve Young hopes his beloved franchise trades for Detroit Lions quarterback Matthew Stafford rather than drafting a replacement for the often injured Jimmy Garoppolo.
The 49ers, like many NFL teams, will need to cautiously navigate the leagues’ decreasing salary cap this Winter as they hope to capitalize on what is usually a short window of opportunity to win. We’re just a year removed from the 49ers entering the fourth quarter with a lead in the Super Bowl they’d eventually lose to the Kansas City Chiefs.
There is little doubt that Stafford would be an upgrade to Garoppolo, and I can only imagine how well Stafford would excel in Kyle Shanahan’s system that led Matt Ryan to a league MVP award in 2016, albeit eventually imploding squandering a 28-3 halftime lead in Super Bowl LI.
The 49ers need to patch up their defense as the majority of their secondary will be heading to free agency. It’s a defense built to pressure the quarterback with stellar players up front led by Nick Bosa, Arik Armstead, and Dee Ford. Oh, and the 49ers have arguably the best middle linebacker at the second level in Fred Warner.
Shanahan is hoping that former NFL linebacker DeMeco Ryans can successfully replace Robert Saleh calling the 49ers defense in 2021. Saleh has since been hired by the New York Jets to be their head coach.
Former three-time Super Bowl-winning quarterback Steve Young feels that Detroit Lions quarterback Matthew Stafford is the answer for Kyle Shanahan’s offense.
In an article published by NBC Sports, Young explains why he feels Stafford is the answer for the 49ers;
"“He’s [going to turn 33 in February],” Young said “Unless there’s a shoulder I don’t know about, or a knee that I don’t know about, or something else that’s kind of degrading quickly that won’t allow him to play five or six or seven more years and get him close to 40, then that would change everything.“But let’s just say he’s generally healthy and can play into 39, 40 years old, there’s no question that he is one of those handful of quarterbacks that is generational.”"
Stafford’s main concern is certainly his back that had been broken multiple times, shutting the franchise quarterback down in 2018 and 2019. Thankfully Stafford’s back held up in 2020, but the 32-year old was forced to battle through various other ailments, including an ankle, thumb, and rib issue.
In the same article, Young also mentioned an “Untested, young talent versus a kid … that has been super tested because he’s been in Detroit, and I am not joking about that.”
What do the 49ers have to offer the Detroit Lions for Stafford?
After an injury-riddled season, the 49ers currently hold the rights to the 12th overall pick in the 2021 NFL Draft. That pick will certainly need to be included in any deal that makes sense.
According to the new version of the Rooney Rule, the 49ers also have a pair of third-round compensatory picks (one in 2021, one in 2022) after Saleh was hired by the Jets. The 49ers may choose to sweeten the pot with one of these choices.
Don’t forget that if the 49ers trade for Stafford, they, in turn, will have an opportunity to trade Garoppolo, and recoup some draft capital they send to the Detroit Lions to land Stafford. Garoppolo has two years left on his current contract having the majority of his contract paid. Garoppolo’s dead cap number is just $2.8 million in 2021 and $1.4 million in 2022.
That dead cap number will allow the 49ers to cut their current starter if they cannot strike a deal, not costing the organization much but saving nearly $24 million against the cap to make room for Stafford.
There is an outside chance that Garoppolo could be a part of a Stafford trade, but that would likely negate the 12th overall pick, far more important than, say, Jimmy G and the 49ers second-round pick (44 overall).
Adding Stafford to Shanahan’s elite zone-run scheme mixed with weapons like Deebo Samuel, Brandon Aiyuk, and George Kittle, there is no telling what the 33-year old QB could do. Plus, I don’t know for sure, but I can only imagine Kelly Stafford would be thrilled to move out to the West coast.