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Graziano: 49ers an ‘intriguing option’ for Zach Wilson

Mar 3, 2024 at 4:13 PM--

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The San Francisco 49ers didn't extensively scout Zach Wilson ahead of the 2021 NFL Draft. They fully expected the New York Jets to select the quarterback with the No. 2 overall pick, and their prediction proved correct.

Head coach Kyle Shanahan was deciding between Trey Lance and Mac Jones, ultimately selecting Lance with the No. 3 overall pick. However, Shanahan may be doing some homework on Wilson this offseason.

Sam Darnold, the veteran quarterback signed last year to serve as Brock Purdy's backup and a possible temporary replacement if Purdy wasn't fully recovered from offseason elbow surgery, is set to become an unrestricted free agent. According to, he carried a $6.3 million salary cap hit this past season.

While Shanahan and the 49ers would undoubtedly love to retain Darnold, that may not be financially feasible, potentially leading the team to explore other options.

"The Rams and 49ers are among intriguing options for quarterback Zach Wilson, who has permission to seek a trade from the Jets," Dan Graziano stated in a recent ESPN feature.

The Jets would save $5.45 million and incur a $5.7 million dead cap penalty by trading the young quarterback. Any interested team must be prepared to absorb that $5.45 million. Wilson is also scheduled to become a free agent next year. A team acquiring Wilson could do some salary-cap gymnastics to lessen the financial burden in 2024.

Still, it seems unlikely that the 49ers would be willing to absorb Wilson's salary and part with a draft pick to acquire the quarterback only to have him serve as a backup. It really depends on how much they value Wilson based on any research they have done this offseason.

What kind of compensation might the 49ers, if interested, have to send to the Jets to acquire Wilson? It's worth noting that the player San Francisco selected immediately after Wilson, Lance, was traded to the Dallas Cowboys in exchange for a fourth-round pick.

Graziano added, "Wilson is looking for a skilled offensive head coach and a place to revive his career. Sean McVay and Kyle Shanahan both need backup QB help at the moment."

The question remains: Do Shanahan or McVay believe Wilson still has enough potential to contribute to their rosters?

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