ESPN predicts 49ers trade up to draft a quarterback, send Jimmy Garoppolo to Patriots

Dec 24, 2020 at 6:59 AM--

It's almost the offseason for the San Francisco 49ers. With that comes all the speculation surrounding how the team might address the quarterback position. Bill Barnwell of ESPN has general manager John Lynch, head coach Kyle Shanahan, and the rest of the 49ers' brain trust falling so in love with a rookie quarterback that they are willing to aggressively move up to draft one.

Right now, San Francisco is slated to pick at No. 12 overall. Much could change over the last two games of the season, though.

Barnwell has the 49ers sending several picks to the New York Jets in exchange for the No. 2 overall pick. Here is how the ESPN writer breaks down such a trade.

  • Jets receive: 49ers' first- and second-round picks in 2021, first- and third-round picks in 2022, and wide receiver Jalen Hurd
  • 49ers receive: Jets' No. 2 overall and fourth-round picks in 2021

That scenario has Lynch and Shanahan parting ways with two first-round picks and more to move into position to grab one of 2021's top prospects.

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"For the 49ers, this would be a deal they would make if they fell in love with one of the other quarterbacks in this class -- Justin Fields, Zach Wilson, or Trey Lance," wrote Barnwell. "... The 49ers could rightfully suggest that a stable, solid quarterback is all they need to make it back to the Super Bowl. Going with a cheaper option under center would free up $20 million or so in cap space, which would allow the Niners to retain more of their pending free agents, a group that includes left tackle Trent Williams and defensive backs Jaquiski Tartt and Richard Sherman."

What happens to Jimmy Garoppolo in this scenario? He doesn't stick around to mentor the rookie quarterback because San Francisco ships him back to Bill Belichick and the New England Patriots for a 2021 fifth-round pick.

"Once, it seemed like Bill Belichick did Kyle Shanahan a favor by sending him a starting quarterback for a second-round pick," wrote Barnwell. "Now, with Garoppolo struggling to stay healthy, Shanahan could return the favor. The Patriots have only Jarrett Stidham under contract at quarterback next year, and they are one of the few teams that have the cap room to easily absorb the two years and $50.6 million in unguaranteed money remaining on Garoppolo's deal."

While Garoppolo is 22-8 as a starter with San Francisco and 24-8 over his career, he has missed 21 games due to injuries over the last three seasons. On Tuesday, the 49ers opened Garoppolo's practice window, but the quarterback is not expected to play this weekend against the Arizona Cardinals.

With Nick Mullens injured and Josh Johnson on the COVID-19 list, the team signed former first-round pick Josh Rosen to back up C.J. Beathard.

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