49ers news: 4 storylines to watch in wake of Baker Mayfield trade

Baker Mayfield #6 of the Cleveland Browns (Photo by Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images)
Baker Mayfield #6 of the Cleveland Browns (Photo by Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images) /
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The Browns trading Baker Mayfield to the Panthers has a direct impact on the 49ers this season, so let’s break down storylines that’ll pan out in 2022.

The San Francisco 49ers found out earlier this offseason just how much a ripple effect one single move can have across the league.

One such move, the Houston Texans trading quarterback Deshaun Watson to the Cleveland Browns, impacted the Niners months ago, and the ramifications are still carrying over just weeks before teams kick off training camp ahead of the 2022 season.

Watson’s pickup meant Cleveland no longer needed its former starter, Baker Mayfield, who after months of speculation and rumor, finally finds himself on the move to the Carolina Panthers in a blockbuster deal announced on Wednesday:

This unquestionably impacts the 49ers, especially with their attempts to trade their own quarterback, Jimmy Garoppolo, prior to Week 1.

That’s obviously a storyline to watch, and we’ll start there in our evaluation of the impacts Mayfield’s trade to Carolina will have on the red and gold this season.

49ers storyline No. 1: ‘Browns or bust’ for Jimmy Garoppolo?

Watson is still facing a possible year-long suspension in the wake of off-field allegations of sexual misconduct, which puts Cleveland in a bind if he’s ultimately unavailable for all of 2022.

Loaded with a roster ready to win now but facing serious salary-cap challenges in 2023, the Browns could possibly view Garoppolo as a one-year replacement option if, for starters, they’re not comfortable with backup quarterback Jacoby Brissett being thrust into a prominent role, as well as if they’re willing to absorb Jimmy G’s $25.5 million post-trade salary.

Currently, at least according to Over the Cap, Cleveland can afford it. And as it’s looking so far, moving Garoppolo to the Browns might be the last, best hope the Niners have to command a trade prior to Week 1.

If Cleveland doesn’t bite, however, San Francisco might be out of options with the veteran signal-caller, which leads us to the next storyline to watch.