The 49ers have no signal-caller. And even if the long-term answer isn't acquired in Kyle Shanahan's first year, you have to expect San Francisco will at least part with Colin Kaepernick. That is a tired situation that has more than run its course, for both parties.
So, eventually, the team may not have a single capable passer on the roster this offseason, and they'll be operating in a competitive field trying to acquire one.
And looking at all the team needs and capital across the NFL landscape, I keep coming back to this same scenario for the Niners. Before the offseason goes much further (and my opinion ultimately changes), I thought I'd share with you what I see happening.
To begin, the 49ers have reportedly been tied to Kirk Cousins and Jimmy Garoppolo, and even Matt Schaub. And while they may strongly pursue the first two, perhaps one after another, I think it's doubtful they land either. I'm under the impression Cousins will stay in Washington, under the franchise tag at the least.
That brings us to Tom Brady's understudy, Garoppolo.
To me, the difference-making equity when it comes to the pursuit of Garoppolo is the No. 12 pick owned by Cleveland, which I believe eventually nets them the Patriots' coveted backup. I think the 49ers, and desperate Bears even, will be in on Garoppolo, but would want to package high twos and not give up top-five picks (Nos. 2 & 3, respectively).
The Browns are in position to get their man, which would keep the 49ers without a starting quarterback.
This leads us to the draft.
I don't believe the 49ers want to take a quarterback at No. 2. It's been said the new front office might bypass that risk, taking a safer prospect like LB Reuben Foster, DL Jonathan Allen, WR Mike Williams, or in the far off chance that Myles Garrett slips past No. 1, he'd be the guy.
I'm inclined to agree.
I think John Lynch, Shanahan, as well as Martin Mayhew and Adam Peters inevitably come to the conclusion that they need to start stocking up on blue-chip players in all areas, and will eventually go that route in the first round of their first draft together.
So, if no quarterback in Round 1 or free agency, when? And who?
While I wouldn't rule out DeShone Kizer if he falls, truthfully, I cannot escape the idea of Patrick Mahomes of Texas Tech.
He's far from the perfect prospect, but I admire the way he has a grip on the Tech offense pre-snap. He looks to have the gutsiness to showcase himself in the NFL early, he pushes the ball all over the field, he's got great pocket mobility, and his overall football IQ is visible on game day, and backed up by people in football.
While he's been talked about as a sleeper to sneak into the first round, perhaps to Houston at No. 25, it's very possible he's there waiting for the 49ers early on Day 2 of the draft. Or San Francisco can even decide to move back into the late first as it has done before.
Here's the rundown of Mahomes' strengths, via NFL.com:
Possesses NFL body type for work inside and out of the pocket. Has an undeniable swagger and confidence to his game. Accuracy has improved in each season since his freshman year. Naturally accurate in his every day throws. Comfortable challenging defenders in space. Has arm strength and fearlessness to attack the cover-2 voids down the sideline. Can make deep, field side throws. Cranks up velocity to fit passes into tight windows.
Former pitcher who propels hips through his release with aggressive torque and never gets cheated on his follow-through. Can deliver strikes from a variety of arm angles. Expedites release on RPOs (run-pass option) or when pressure is mounting in pocket. Puts effort into play-action fakes. Relaxed and effective when throwing on the move. Can be a legitimate dual-threat in a boot-action offense. Improved his eye manipulation over the years and will eyeball linebackers to hold them while patterns unfold around them. Has pocket mobility to escape pressure and the poise to extend plays and find alternate targets. Hands are very strong. Can pump and reset without issues. Competes as a runner and is willing to go the extra mile for the first down.
This would be a developmental pick, one Shanahan could get his hands on. And at the very least, the 6-foot-3 gunslinger would bring some much-needed juice to the offense as a rookie, keeping the fans engaged long enough until San Francisco can entertain a potentially wealthy crop of passers in the 2018 draft.
But you don't make this pick for no reason - there's a very real chance Mahomes could grow into something special with Shanahan. After all, Shanahan was a fan of Cousins in Washington, when the team selected him with a fourth-round pick in 2012. The coach was also in on passers Derek Carr and Garoppolo when they were coming out as non-first-round quarterbacks.
He's confident he can mold talent.
It's a low-risk, high-reward option, which also allows the 49ers to take more of a sure thing and potential franchise player in the first round. Don't be surprised if this is the way the dominoes fall.
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