Kelley L Cox-USA TODAY Sports

Kelley L Cox-USA TODAY Sports

Chris Simms sees three options for 49ers to upgrade at QB

Mar 8, 2021 at 9:51 AM--

The most probable scenario is that the San Francisco 49ers enter the 2021 season with Jimmy Garoppolo under center. While general manager John Lynch has recently committed to that as the current plan, it hasn't stopped the rampant speculation that the team continues to seek an upgrade.

NBC Sports' Chris Simms has been vocal about his concern surrounding Garoppolo's availability. The quarterback has missed 23 games over the past three seasons due to injuries. When he is in there, though, the 49ers are successful. The obvious case in point is the 2019 campaign during which Garoppolo started all 16 games for the first time in his NFL career, helping guide the 49ers to a 13-3 record, the NFC West crown, and a Super Bowl appearance.

Simms feels San Francisco could stand to upgrade the quarterback position. With anyone else, this would just be chalked up to another analyst with an opinion. However, Simms is a close friend of Kyle Shanahan and may understand the 49ers head coach's thinking better than most. Although, Simms does admit that Shanahan is often reluctant to share any football-related insider info with him due to his position within the media.

What options does Simms lay out for Shanahan and the 49ers to upgrade at quarterback? He shared three scenarios via Twitter (h/t to Grant Cohn of Sports Illustrated). By the way, none involved Deshaun Watson.

The first seems to be a more prudent option. It likely assumes San Francisco sees Garoppolo as a potential long-term solution. Of course, the 49ers inquiring about other quarterbacks this offseason makes many wonder if that is the case.

Lynch recently stated that the team needs to have a better backup plan in place should Garoppolo miss time again. The 49ers unsuccessfully tried to push through the season last year with Nick Mullens and C.J. Beathard, who were largely ineffective replacements. Adding a more-capable backup might be ideal.

Option two wouldn't necessarily result in the immediate departure of Garoppolo. San Francisco could draft a quarterback and allow him to sit for a season and learn behind the veteran, who already has a solid grasp of the offense. The real question is if Shanahan sees any of the top prospects as a suitable long-term replacement for Garoppolo. If so, which one or ones does he like the most?

Simms has said in the past that he feels both Zach Wilson, who is expected to be selected as high as No. 2 overall, and Mac Jones would be solid fits for the 49ers offense.

Option three might be the more controversial suggestion. While Sam Darnold does possess physical attributes that exceed Garoppolo's, there is some debate surrounding his ceiling. Was Darnold limited by talent-deprived rosters in New York, or is his erratic play what one should expect even with a more talented roster?

Darnold is still just 23 years old, and his salary offers considerable savings compared to Garoppolo's. Is he a better long-term solution, though? Swapping out Garoppolo for Darnold would be a gamble.

The good news is that if Shanahan wants Darnold, and the Jets want to move on from the quarterback, the head coach has a friend in New York—former 49ers defensive coordinator Robert Saleh, who is now the Jets head coach. Of course, that doesn't mean San Francisco might get Darnold at a bargain rate. It might make the process easier, though.

The 49ers' quarterback options will continue to be a storyline until all of the offseason dominos fall.

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