Joe Nicholson-USA TODAY Sports

Joe Nicholson-USA TODAY Sports

ESPN, PFF identify Dak Prescott as a free-agent match for the 49ers

Mar 4, 2021 at 6:34 AM--

Let's just note right off the bat that this one probably isn't going to happen and sounds very unrealistic. Dak Prescott isn't likely to hit the open market, and even if he does, he will cost a significant sum of money. That didn't stop Seth Galina of Pro Football Focus, in a special for ESPN, from identifying the Dallas Cowboys quarterback as a match for the San Francisco 49ers.

"Each NFL team has a specific weakness -- whether that's edge rushing, slot coverage or just general quarterback play -- so we decided to fit a player who would fill that specific need for the team," explained Galina.

That would mean the 49ers' weakness is being identified as quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo. Granted, he has missed 23 games over the past three seasons, a statistic that comes up in every article discussing the 29-year-old's value. Garoppolo has also proven to be capable of winning football games. He boasts a 24-9 record—including playoffs—as the 49ers' starter and a 26-9 record over his NFL career. The quarterback helped San Francisco win 13 regular-season games, the NFC West crown, and reach the Super Bowl in 2019—his first full season as a starter.

There is no doubt that a healthy Prescott would be an upgrade over Garoppolo. He would be an upgrade over many NFL quarterbacks. Prescott passed for 4,902 yards in 2019 and was on pace to surpass that mark by a significant margin this past season before suffering a compound fracture and dislocation to his right ankle and landing on injured reserve.

"This may be blurring the lines a little," admits Galina in his analysis of a Prescott-to-49ers scenario, "but Prescott is technically a free agent and the 49ers are definitely looking for a quarterback. He would be a massive upgrade at the position from Jimmy Garoppolo. An intelligent, heady player with incredible touch and decision-making skills, Prescott's 85.2 grade before injury was still good enough for eighth among all quarterbacks this past season, one year after finishing 11th in 2019."

Even without Garoppolo under contract, you have to question whether the 49ers could afford Prescott in the first place (or the second place if he isn't expected to even hit free agency). San Francisco is expected to have about $13 million in salary-cap space and Prescott will command a hefty price tag. It might cost a team somewhere more in the direction of Patrick Mahomes money than Garoppolo money. Garoppolo is currently the 11th-highest-paid quarterback, earning an average of $27.5 million a year.

Of course, I don't think that was the point of the exercise. I don't think Galina took salary-cap figures into consideration and was simply trying to find matches that eliminated the biggest team weaknesses. So, it's an in-an-ideal-world type scenario.

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