Kelvin Kuo-USA TODAY Sports

Kelvin Kuo-USA TODAY Sports

Two ‘bold NFL predictions’ from The Athletic involve the 49ers

Feb 15, 2021 at 12:10 PM--

Sheil Kapadia of The Athletic made 10 bold NFL predictions for this offseason, and two of them involved the San Francisco 49ers. Jimmy Garoppolo has to be the odds-on favorite to be the team's starting quarterback in 2021, but fans and the media continue to keep an eye on what's happening in Houston with Deshaun Watson. After all, if anything can tempt Kyle Shanahan to move on from Garoppolo, it might be the thought of adding an exciting playmaker like Watson to his offense.

Kapadia admits that several things could happen in Houston that keep Watson from being traded. Maybe the two sides reconcile and move forward. Maybe the star quarterback decides to push through a bad situation and play for the Texans. Watson could opt to show how serious he is about wanting out and sits out the season.

The Texans' attempts to reach out to Watson are reportedly being ignored. If that continues, it may force Houston into a difficult decision, resulting in the trade of their disgruntled star. Kapadia feels the Miami Dolphins as a destination make a lot of sense. As do the Carolina Panthers. However, there is one team that he keeps coming back to. Kapadia predicts that the 49ers outbid the others for Watson.

"If you're Kyle Shanahan, you've seen two of the past three seasons go down the drain because of Jimmy Garoppolo injuries," wrote Kapadia. "Is your best option going forward really to pay Garoppolo $25.5 million with hopes that he stays healthy in 2021? Shanahan has to wonder what his offense would look like with a more talented, more durable quarterback like Watson. This feels like the spot to get very, very aggressive. Would other teams be able to beat an offer that included three first-round picks and Nick Bosa?"

That last part may make members of The Faithful cringe. They would prefer a deal that doesn't involve surrendering one of the team's top young talents. Watson's availability would create a bidding war, and San Francisco might be forced to use whatever it can to jump ahead of others. After all, Kapadia feels a deal for Watson could become "the biggest trade in NFL history."

"His cap hit in 2021 for the 49ers would be just $10.54 million and could more easily allow them to bring back left tackle Trent Williams," adds Kapadia. "Watson is under contract for $29.3 million per year for the next five seasons. That's a bargain compared to the going rate for quarterbacks of his caliber."

The other prediction involves what the 49ers might do with Garoppolo, should the team add a quarterback. The most logical destination would be the New England Patriots, where Garoppolo started his career. They have the room to absorb Garoppolo's salary.

"It's possible that no team is willing to give up anything of value for Garoppolo, given what he's owed," wrote Kapadia. "But he has no guaranteed money remaining on his deal. If he plays well in 2021, the Patriots can extend him. If he doesn't, it was a one-year flier. Belichick agrees to give up a conditional 2022 third-round pick that turns into a second if Garoppolo meets certain playing time and performance thresholds in 2021."

Click here to read the entire feature over at The Athletic.

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