Kevin Jairaj-USA TODAY Sports

Kevin Jairaj-USA TODAY Sports

Joe Staley weighs in on the 49ers’ QB situation

Apr 2, 2021 at 1:12 PM--

Former San Francisco 49ers offensive tackle Joe Staley, now retired, spoke with former NFL running back Michael Robinson during the latest NFL Total Access: The Locker Room podcast. Of course, the topic of the quarterback situation came up. Last week, the Niners traded up to the No. 3 spot in this year's draft. It is a given that the team is targeting its quarterback of the future. Of course, that signals the eventual departure of a locker-room favorite—Jimmy Garoppolo.

If the 49ers are to be believed, the transition won't happen this year, though. The plan is to keep Garoppolo for the upcoming season, allowing the rookie—whoever he may be—to sit and learn for a year. The team freed up enough salary-cap space to afford the luxury of holding onto Garoppolo for at least another year.

The 49ers win when Garoppolo plays. He is 24-9 as a starter. Robinson asked Staley about the doubt surrounding the quarterback, and the former offensive lineman provided an honest response.

"He took us to the Super Bowl. He was the quarterback when we went to the Super Bowl," Staley said. "I think one of the things you said was, 'When he plays.' I think in any position, if you miss a lot of games, I think the old cliché is, 'The best ability is availability.' There's a double-edged sword to that because if you're Tom Brady and Dew Brees, I don't care how often you get hurt, but you're going to still be the starting quarterback. I think maybe that's a little bit [of the reason].

"... I think, two, the way contracts are structured these days in the NFL, you're almost better off having a rookie quarterback on a rookie deal and kind of building a team around him. If you look at the quarterbacks [who have] been in the Super Bowl, Tom Brady's probably the only one that's not on a rookie deal that has been there. ... I think Pat [Mahomes] was on his."

Robinson added that quarterback Russell Wilson was on his rookie deal when the Seahawks won the Super Bowl.

"I think it's just the way the NFL works now," Staley continued. "I think everybody's kind of looking for the newest and greatest, and I think the one thing, too, is Kyle. I mean, I think any head coach wants this, especially when you're such an offensive-minded guy, like Kyle Shanahan is, is that he would love to kind of hand-pick his own guy.

"And I think, just looking from my perspective ... there seems like there's a lot of great quarterback options out there this year, in this year's draft. Obviously, they are excited about probably three of them if they're trading up to three. Maybe they've got three guys that they think are hand-picked guys that they could go for the next four or five or six years, be very, very competitive."

Staley adds that the 49ers have to be thinking about the massive contracts that will eventually need to be handed to linebacker Fred Warner and defensive end Nick Bosa. That's tougher to do when so much of your salary cap is invested in one quarterback.

You can listen to the entire conversation with Staley below.

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