Joe Nicholson-USA TODAY Sports

Joe Nicholson-USA TODAY Sports

Former GM convinced Kyle Shanahan, 49ers remain interested in these two QBs

Mar 6, 2021 at 2:56 PM--

Former NFL general manager Michael Lombardi, now a contributor at The Athletic, doesn't buy into John Lynch's recent declaration that the San Francisco 49ers are content heading into the 2021 season with Jimmy Garoppolo at the helm. If they were, he doesn't feel that the team would be calling around the league to inquire about anyone who might be available. Most assume that Lynch is doing his due diligence as free agency and the draft quickly approaches.

"They are too active, too aggressive to run it back one more year with someone they don't have complete trust in," wrote Lombardi this week.

Lombardi also doesn't buy into head coach Kyle Shanahan being interested in Teddy Bridgewater and doubts the 49ers inquired about Carolina Panthers quarterback. That report came from Lombardi's colleague with The Athletic, Joe Person.

"49ers coach Kyle Shanahan was never a huge Bridgewater fan during his time in Cleveland when Bridgewater was available in the draft," explained Lombardi. "Shanahan is rather specific in what he wants for his offense from the quarterback position, and those qualifications don't fit with Bridgewater's game."

Lombardi was the general manager for the Cleveland Browns during Shanahan's one season (2014) as the offensive coordinator there, which was also the year that Bridgewater entered the league.

Lombardi is convinced that Shanahan is interested in adding a quarterback, though, but not just any quarterback. The writer names two potential options that could convince the head coach to move on from Garoppolo.

The first is Sam Darnold of the New York Jets.

"Why? Because Darnold fits the profile that Shanahan loves at the position: athletic, can throw moving to his left or right, and has the arm strength to make the defense defend every blade of grass on the field," wrote Lombardi. "The 49ers could acquire him with a second-round pick and then trade Jimmy G."

Lombardi notes that the Jets seek a high second-round pick for Darnold, something in the range of No. 33-42 overall. San Francisco owns the No. 43 overall pick.

This week, FS1 host Colin Cowherd weighed in on Lombardi's comments about Darnold. Cowherd has often expressed that Darnold would be a good fit for Shanahan's offense.

"If Jimmy Garoppolo didn't have injuries at all, they wouldn't be moving off him," Cowherd said on The Herd (h/t to Patrick Tulini). "He's showed he's good enough to get to the Super Bowl. He's a B-quarterback talent that, for a year, when he was healthy, played like an A-minus quarterback under Shanahan.

"Well, Darnold, if you ask any scout, is more athletic than Jimmy Garoppolo. He's got better raw tools. He's a little bigger, huskier, more athletic, better arm than Garoppolo. So if Garoppolo can get to a Super Bowl, why can't Darnold?"

It's worth noting that there have been no official reports that the 49ers are looking to "move off" of Garoppolo and that anything up to this point has been speculation. Yes, San Francisco inquired about Matthew Stafford and Carson Wentz. However, the team reportedly never made offers for either, and its interest in the former has been described as "lukewarm."

There is another quarterback who Lombardi feels San Francisco would be even more interested in acquiring than Darnold. Of course, that creates a difficult situation. It means making a potential play for Darnold could foil the team's chances of an even better option—Deshaun Watson of the Houston Texans.

"Would San Francisco want Watson? Yes," adds Lombardi. "Would they want Watson over Darnold? Once again, yes. Would they regret trading for Darnold if two days later they hear Houston is accepting offers for Watson? Another huge yes."

For now, the 49ers appear content in pressing ahead with Garoppolo. However, some remain convinced that Lynch and Shanahan are keeping other quarterbacks on their radar—just in case.

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