SF 49ers should trade for Lions QB Matthew Stafford in 2021

Matthew Stafford #9 of the Detroit Lions (Photo by Rey Del Rio/Getty Images)
Matthew Stafford #9 of the Detroit Lions (Photo by Rey Del Rio/Getty Images) /

As the SF 49ers may look to move on from Jimmy Garoppolo, they should trade for Lions quarterback Matthew Stafford.

For the SF 49ers, there is no player that is more loved and more hated than quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo. It is rare to see a fanbase so divided over their opinions of a player. Many credit him with taking the team to a Super Bowl, but others say he lost the team a Super Bowl that the team’s run game brought it to.

While some look to Garoppolo as the future of the franchise, many are calling for the Niners to part ways with the oft-injured signal-caller.

SF 49ers head coach Kyle Shanahan has done his best to squash any rumors of the team moving on from Garoppolo, saying this week he expects Garoppolo to be the team’s starter next season. However, that has not stopped many fans and media personalities from saying they expect the team to move on. And sometimes, where there’s smoke, there’s fire.

Only time will tell if those is one of those times

Many names have been speculated as to whom the Niners may move to, with many looking to quarterbacks Shanahan has previously worked with: Matt Ryan and Kirk Cousins. However, this FanSided piece from last week suggested the SF 49ers should look to Detroit Lions quarterback Matthew Stafford.

After giving it some thought, I agree. Allow me to explain.

First, I tend to think the Niners should stay with Garoppolo, I am really only saying that if they do move on, Stafford is the best option. Stafford is on a flailing Lions team that is likely about to launch a rebuild. If Stafford is tired of being the best player on a horrible team, or if the team looks to move on in the draft, it is possible he may be on the trade block.

Stafford makes sense for the SF 49ers for many reasons. First, he is cheaper than Garoppolo. Garoppolo is set to make $25.5 million next season, while Stafford only $20 million, if he is traded after a bonus goes into effect, according to Spotrac. If the Niners are going to move on from Garoppolo, next season is the season to do it, as he can be cut with only $1.4 million in dead cap space. It’s likely the Niners would have to cut Garoppolo and use draft capital to make this trade happen, although if Detroit keeps head coach Matt Patricia, his infatuation with previous Patriots could lead him to make a Stafford-Garoppolo swap.

That move would be a loss for the Lions. That brings us to the second reason: Stafford is an amazing quarterback. He is one of the NFL’s best, however, he has been trapped in obscurity with the Lions his whole career. However, with that team, he has put up incredible numbers. He is the fastest quarterback to reach 30,000 passing yards since the NFL and AFL merged in 1970, as well as the fastest to reach 40,000.

Stafford is a great player and would thrive in Shanahan’s offense. On the 49ers, Stafford would have something he has had very few times in his career: elite teammates and a great coaching staff. Even though the 49ers offense has thrived under Garoppolo, it has been mainly focused on the run game. Garoppolo has excelled as a game manager, but at times has failed to make key throws, most notably in the 2020 Super Bowl when he missed a wide-open wide receiver, Emmanuel Sanders.

Stafford excels at throwing the deep ball and makes plays in crunch time. He has 30 fourth-quarter comebacks in his career, as well as 37 game-winning drives. He thrives under pressure and can air the ball out in ways Garoppolo, at least as of now, has not shown the ability to do consistently.

Stafford would allow Shanahan to add a deep aerial attack as a new layer in his already complex and dominant offense. With Stafford at the helm, the Niners offense could surpass even the heights it set during last year’s Super Bowl run. Shanahan turned a veteran, Ryan, into a league MVP, and Stafford is a better quarterback than Ryan. So the potential of what they could do together is enticing.

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As speculation continues to buzz around the 49ers moving on from Garoppolo, many names have been thrown out for who could be his replacement. If the Lions are open to a trade, the SF 49ers should take a serious look at Stafford. He is one of the best quarterbacks in the NFL despite limited opportunities to show it while playing for a bad Lions franchise, and he would be cheaper than Garoppolo. His talents and experience would allow him to thrive in Shanahan’s offense.