With the Super Bowl having passed it is now officially the offseason in the NFL. The San Francisco 49ers are in win-now mode and will be doing everything they can to finally get over the top and become champions. This will require the team to be savvy in free agency to fill the holes on their roster and make upgrades where they deem necessary. Over the next couple of weeks I will be breaking down each position group on the 49ers and potential targets the team could have in free agency. First up, the most important position on the team, Quarterback.
As things stand right now the 49ers have last year’s number three pick Trey Lance and veteran Jimmy Garoppolo under contract for next year. However, it appears that Garoppolo is likely to be traded before the new league year starts on March 16th. This will free up about $25 Million in cap space and officially hand the keys to the franchise over to the uber-talented Trey Lance. With all that in mind, the 49ers will need to invest in a backup QB in case of an injury to Lance. Here are several options I think the 49ers could pursue.
Sudfeld spent the season as the 49ers third string quarterback and a member of the practice squad. Now is Sudfeld the most talented guy or an ideal option? No, not necessarily, but he has familiarity with the offense after spending a year in the notoriously tricky Shanahan offense. Having Sudfeld back would mitigate whatever sort of learning curve that would have to occur bringing in someone else. If anything were to happen to Trey Lance, I believe Shanahan would be comfortable rolling out Sudfeld for a game or two due to his familiarity with the team and scheme. The cost to bring Sudfeld back should be minimal, and the 49ers should absolutely consider bringing him back as the backup, or at the very least back on the practice squad again.
I have always been a big fan of Tyrod Taylor. I think he is an ideal backup/bridge QB in the NFL who you can win some games with if thats what it came down to. The likely hood of the 49ers bringing in seems to have increased the last few weeks with the addition of Anthony Lynn to the 49ers coaching staff. Lynn was the assistant head coach turned offensive coordinator turned interim head coach when Tyrod was the quarterback for the Buffalo Bills and later was the head coach of the Los Angeles Chargers where Tyrod was the backup QB. Tyrod is a very solid Quarterback. While he lacks an explosive arm, Tyrod Taylor has a proven track record of taking care of the football. We have seen Shanahan able to put together a competent offense with quarterbacks who are a much lower caliber of player than Tyrod Taylor. The 49ers should certainly look into giving him a call.
The 49ers reportedly had an interest in Andy Dalton last year as a backup QB to Jimmy Garoppolo last offseason. Dalton is a proven solid veteran who would give the 49ers insurance in case of emergency. Dalton is not the same caliber of QB that he was back in Cincinnati where he made three pro bowls and led the Bengals to five straight winning seasons. However, he is certainly a capable quarterback who could slide in on a moment’s notice and keep the team competitive. Dalton is coming off his worst year as a starter, although the coaching in Chicago was certainly questionable this last season so who knows if that was completely his fault or not. The price to bring him in should be much lower than it would have been last season, which would certainly warrant the 49ers exploring Dalton as an option for backup QB.
Former 1st round pick Mitchell Trubisky is another intriguing option as a backup. Trubisky is a younger option who has some physical talent, but just never lived up to his draft status with the Bears. Trubisky spent the last season as the Bills’ backup. It is likely Trubisky will have options where he can compete for a starting job, so it is unlikely he would come to the 49ers. The same could be said for Marcus Mariota who would be a great fit but is likely looking for an opportunity to be a starter again in the league.