SF 49ers quarterback situation could be tied to NY Jets

New York Jets quarterback Sam Darnold (14) Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports
New York Jets quarterback Sam Darnold (14) Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports /

Niner Noise looks at how the NY Jets’ decision on their quarterback situation may be linked to the SF 49ers.

This NFL offseason is only a month removed from Super Bowl LV, but the quarterback carousel many have predicted would occur is already spinning.

Yet even with two trades and countless rumors surrounding a host of quarterbacks, from the Dallas Cowboys’ Dak Prescott, the Houston Texans’ DeShaun Watson, and even the Seattle Seahawks’ Russell Wilson, the SF 49ers have remained on the sidelines.

We have already seen the Detroit Lions and Los Angeles Rams swap quarterbacks and picks with Matthew Stafford moving to the Rams in exchange for Jared Goff. And even with the poor 2020 season Carson Wentz had with the Philadelphia Eagles, the Indianapolis Colts moved on from the retirement of Philip Rivers by adding Wentz in exchange for a 2021 third-round pick and a 2022 conditional second-round pick.

While the SF 49ers hierarchy has been steadfast in their public declarations of support for Jimmy Garoppolo, the media and some NFL insiders continue to state the team is looking to move on from Garoppolo sooner rather than later.

Meanwhile, the NY Jets have been linked to nearly every quarterback trade proposal and/or mock draft quarterback selection, based in large part on the struggles of their young quarterback, Sam Darnold. The fact they have multiple first-round picks in the 2021 NFL Draft, including the second overall pick, only serves to intensify those rumors.

All told, it could be the Jets’ moves regarding their QB situation that most directly affect what San Francisco ultimately decides to do with Garoppolo.

Many mock drafts have the Jets selecting either BYU’s Zach Wilson or Ohio State’s Justin Fields, and the 49ers drafting North Dakota State’s Trey Lance at 12. If the Jets decide to stick with Darnold and surround him with more weapons, it could mean quarterbacks could slide down the board a bit.

That, in turn, could precipitate a slight trade up by the 49ers to nab Fields, Lance, or Alabama’s Mac Jones, depending on his scouting evaluations post-Senior Bowl.

But the possibilities don’t stop there.

Jets quarterbacking situation has bigger impacts on SF 49ers

Although the Texans continue to claim Watson is not available via trade, the Jets and 49ers are commonly linked to those trade rumors.

Ultimately, the cost to acquire Watson may be too rich for Niners general manager John Lynch, but Jets GM Joe Douglas has the draft picks and the need to be better at the quarterback position. If he was somehow able to convince Watson that new head coach Robert Saleh can build a contender around him, it could also free up the team to seek a trade for Darnold.

That could pique the interest of SF 49ers head coach Kyle Shanahan, who seems to be a fan of Darnold’s.

While Shanahan’s affinity for the Jets quarterback could have just been coachspeak, it would potentially address the team’s quarterback situation on multiple levels. The addition of a recent former first-round pick could motivate Garoppolo even more, who has operated as the team’s unquestioned starter since being acquired in October of 2017.

A player with Darnold’s skill set in the Shanahan quarterback-friendly system could push Jimmy G for the starting role in San Francisco going forward. At the very least, it would provide the SF 49ers a potential solid, reliable backup should Garoppolo once again suffer an injury.

After missing 23 games the past three seasons, Garoppolo’s health is a major concern for Shanahan and Co. Having a backup who could come in and win meaningful games for a potential Super Bowl contender cannot be understated. After all, the team did win six games with an injury-decimated team led by a combination of Nick Mullens and C.J. Beathard.

With all due respect to those two, if the Niners had a more conpetent, stable quarterback under center, they could very well have challenged for the last playoff spot in the NFC.

Additionally, if the Jets cannot wait on the Texans’ decision regarding Watson with the draft quickly approaching, the 49ers conversely can.

Garoppolo is under a team-friendly contract, and when healthy, wins games (24-9 and a Super Bowl appearance). Lynch seemed to intimate as much when he joined the Eye Test for Two podcast.

Yet the rumors still persist.

If the Jets and/or Miami Dolphins cannot wait out the Texans and decide to shift focus to the draft, the 49ers could be one of the last teams standing in a bid for Watson.

However this all shakes out, there is a very real possibility that the Jets’ decision regarding their quarterback situation could directly impact how San Francisco approaches its own quarterbacking uncertainty.

Next. 3 reasons why 49ers won't trade Jimmy Garoppolo. dark

The bottom line is this: Whatever happens (or doesn’t) in the next month or so could be a defining moment not only for Lynch and Shanahan but for the franchise as well.