Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports

Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports

Breer: 49ers started looking into drafting a quarterback after the season ended

Mar 29, 2021 at 10:02 AM--

The San Francisco 49ers knew a change was needed immediately after the 2020 season ended. At one point, the team had Super Bowl aspirations. The team ended up finishing with just six wins. Much of that had to do with the unprecedented number of injuries the roster endured. Much of that had to do with the unavailability of quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo.

According to Albert Breer of Sports Illustrated, the decision to draft a rookie quarterback came soon after the season's conclusion. That's when coaches and front office personnel started doing extensive homework on the incoming rookie quarterbacks.

"(Head coach Kyle) Shanahan, (GM John) Lynch, assistant GM Adam Peters, offensive coordinator Mike McDaniel, QBs coach Rich Scangarello and offensive assistant Bobby Slowik were among those who dove headlong into quarterback evaluation in January and February," wrote Breer.

Their initial assessments were done by the end of February. They knew there wasn't a realistic shot at Trevor Lawrence, a near-lock to go No. 1 overall to the Jacksonville Jaguars. Zach Wilson is also likely to be gone by the No. 3 pick. Still, there will be some good prospects left at that spot, prompting the 49ers to trade up last week.

It was a move that was weeks in the making. Breer reports that Lynch and company started discussions about three weeks ago.

"Lynch and Miami GM Chris Grier pledged to keep the talks quiet," wrote Breer. "Teams calling the Dolphins to sniff around the third pick were told only that Miami had a strong offer for it. The Dolphins didn't shop the Niners' offer, and the Niners didn't double back to the Jets or anyone else looking for a better deal."

The trade didn't just surprise fans. The players didn't see the move coming either. It prompted All-Pro tight end George Kittle to remark that he just works for the team, before adding, "I don't know what's going on."

One has to wonder if the idea that a rookie quarterback might be in play would have impacted offensive tackle Trent Williams' decision to re-sign with San Francisco. He had a competitive offer on the table from the Kansas City Chiefs.

Breer adds that next year's draft class also impacted the 49ers' decision to make the blockbuster move.

"San Francisco also got a picture from its scouts of the 2022 draft at the position, and it was bleak in comparison to '21," Breer noted. "That meant not taking one they liked this year would likely mean going into '22, the final year of Garoppolo's contract, with far fewer options on the table."

The 49ers seem prepared to enter the 2021 season with Garoppolo as the starter and a rookie sitting behind him, learning for a season. Lynch has admitted that trade offers for Garoppolo wouldn't be ignored. Of course, it's difficult to know what to believe when it comes to any pre-draft statements.

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