Aaron Doster-USA TODAY Sports

Aaron Doster-USA TODAY Sports



ESPN senior writer Mike Sando took a look at eight potential trades that might take place as free agency quickly approaches. Two of those trades involved the San Francisco 49ers and potential quarterback solutions for the team. Of course, a trade for a quarterback would almost certainly spell the end of the Colin Kaepernick era in San Francisco. Kaepernick is due nearly $14.5 million in 2017 with a cap hit of over $19 million, per Spotrac.com.

While much of the discussion has surrounded Washington Redskins quarterback Kirk Cousins, who will have a high price tag should he be franchised, and New England Patriots quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo, Sando does not link either to the 49ers in his latest feature.

Jay Cutler


Jay Cutler may not be a long-term solution for the 49ers, but he could be a bridge quarterback for head coach Kyle Shanahan until a quarterback of the future can be identified, acquired, and deemed ready to start.

Why a trade if Cutler is likely to be released by the Chicago Bears? Why not just wait and sign him as a free agent? Sando believes that a late-round pick is a low price to pay in order to guarantee the acquisition of the quarterback and not have to compete with other interested teams. The 49ers have the second-most cap space of any NFL team and can certainly afford to absorb Cutler's $16 million cap hit in 2017.

Sando appears to be under the impression that the 49ers own two seventh-round picks, which they do not. However, they do have two sixth-round selections and Sando thinks that may be enough to trade for Cutler. "If you are Kyle Shanahan, you will take Cutler and maybe you get a couple years," one NFL executive told Sando. "It buys some time."

The other team Sando believes might be a good trade fit for Cutler is the New York Jets.

AJ McCarron


One interesting name who Sando linked to the 49ers is Cincinnati Bengals quarterback AJ McCarron. McCarron is only 26 years old compared to Jay Cutler, who will be 34 when the 2017 season begins. However, in addition to a sixth-round draft pick, Sando has a 49ers player involved in this trade scenario – 2015 first-round selection Arik Armstead. Armstead, who was the 17th overall selection in 2015, is entering the third year of his four-year rookie contract. McCarron has a year left on his contract before becoming a restricted free agent in 2018.

McCarron is also an affordable option. His base salary for 2017 is $690,000 with a cap hit of just $735,413. McCarron started three regular season games and a postseason game for the Bengals in 2015, including a 24-14 Week 15 victory over the 49ers. During those starts, he completed 62.1-percent of his passes for 764 yards, five touchdowns, and one interception. His total passer rating for all of 2015 was 97.1. That would have been good enough to rank him eighth in the NFL in 2016.

"AJ's done a really good job of taking advantage of the opportunities he's been given," said Bengals director of player personnel Duke Tobin via The Cincinnati Enquirer. "AJ's a competitor. AJ wants to be a starting quarterback. Those are traits that you want to see in a guy. You don't want guys that are content with their role if it's not as big as what it could be. AJ is used to the big stage, and when he got on it, he produced. So he's become a very valuable piece of our team. Even though you don't see him on the field that much, he's become an extremely valuable piece of our team."