Indianapolis Colts quarterback Andrew Luck’s sudden retirement directly affects the San Francisco 49ers, although not necessarily in the manner one might think.
As first reported by ESPN’s Adam Schefter, Indianapolis Colts quarterback Andrew Luck elected to retire, following a slew of injuries and subsequent recoveries which he phrased it was time, “to move forward in my life the way I want to, it doesn’t involve football.”
The Colts were widely seen as a Super Bowl contender entering 2019 after going 10-6 and earning a playoff berth under first-year head coach Frank Reich last season. It had been an amazing turnaround for Reich and general manager Chris Ballard, considering the Colts were at 4-12 in 2017.
Now, unless No. 2 Colts quarterback Jacoby Brissett suddenly takes off in a starting role, the Colts will probably be no better than a middle-of-the-pack team.
So, how does that affect San Francisco?
The initial knee-jerk reaction would be to suggest the Niners trade off one of their stockpiled backup quarterbacks, either Nick Mullens or C.J. Beathard, who are battling it out for the No. 2 job behind Jimmy Garoppolo.
Perhaps. Head coach Kyle Shanahan later told reporters he would listen to offers which would improve the team. But he also said the 49ers were planning on keeping three quarterbacks on the 53-man roster this season, too.
Make of that what you wish.
Even if the Niners were willing to offer up Beathard or Mullens, there’s no guarantee Ballard would go that route. Especially with a relatively fresh Brissett in a scenario where he has a shot to prove himself worthy of starting.
Luck’s retirement does have an impact on San Francisco in another way, however: the 2020 NFL Draft.
Indianapolis currently owns all seven of its draft picks for next year, as well as holding the Washington Redskins’ second rounder. The 49ers, meanwhile, are short a second-round pick in 2020 (spent in acquiring EDGE Dee Ford from the Chiefs).
Chatter about whom the Colts could select as a long-term quarterbacking option in the draft has already started. And the 2020 quarterback class is already seen as a relatively deep one, boasting names such as the following:
- Tua Tagovailoa, Alabama
- Justin Herbert, Oregon
- Jake Fromm, Georgia
- K.J. Costello, Stanford
- Jordan Love, Utah State
- Shea Patterson, Michigan
- Nathan Stanley, Iowa
Tagovailoa, Herbert and arguably Fromm appear to be first-round picks, and the 2019 collegiate season could shake things up for the remaining cast considerably.
It’s anyone’s guess how the 2020 NFL Draft order shakes up, although it’s fairly safe to say the Colts will now be selecting much sooner than they were initially anticipating.
If the Niners somehow find themselves picking a few spots ahead of Indianapolis, there’s the easy-to-see possibility of a draft-day trade between the two squads. San Francisco likely isn’t going to have interest in a first-round quarterback, unless Garoppolo completely flames out this season, and reacquiring a second rounder would be beneficial for general manager John Lynch and Co.
So, if you’re looking for a possible link between Luck’s retirement and the 49ers, that would likely be it — a would-be move in the NFL Draft, should the context link up in a feasible manner.