The road ahead will be a common path taken by franchises in the NFL but one that is the most difficult and diverse path, finding a franchise quarterback. Carson Wentz the promising Eagles QB out of North Dakota state, Joe Flacco out of Delaware, Aaron Rodgers out of Cal had to seat behind a Hall of Famer in Brett Farve, Tom Brady a 6th-round pick got in after the starter Drew Bledsoe got hurt. Eli Manning and Peyton Manning first overall picks that won Super Bowls between them. Then there are the Blaine Gabbert’s of the world, Jamarcus Russell, Christian Ponder, Blake Bortles and Jake Locker to name a few who get picked early and crumbled under pressure.
A franchise quarterback is a beacon of hope, a leader of men in one form or another, a clutch operator, a conqueror of adversity, and most importantly a winner. A franchise quarterback is a exactly what our beloved San Francisco 49ers need, with Head Coach Kyle Shanahan and General Manager John Lynch, this organization believes it has the right people to lay a foundation that will propel them out of the NFL’s cellar. There’s no better way to do that than getting a franchise signal-caller to lead this team. The evidence is overwhelmingly clear to see, as the 49ers are staring down 0-5 on the season so far. You just can’t win consistently without a good quarterback – just ask the Cleveland Browns.
Some will argue that defense wins championships and you need to build up your roster before inserting a young signal caller, if this holds true the 49ers should pull the trigger on a Quarterback in the upcoming offseason. With two Veteran Quarterbacks seemingly destined for free agency in Kirk Cousins and Jimmy Garoppolo, two, maybe more young passers in college football are looking like promising fortune-changing prospects, this is the time to strike. Being in the NFC West, it’s clear to the 49ers that young quarterbacks can quickly change the trajectory of a franchise. As the first place Seahawks and second place Rams both have young quarterbacks leading them to success currently. Both rival fan bases even have realistic hopes of making the playoffs, not to mention there’s also the feeling of comfort knowing they have quarterbacks for the foreseeable future.
There are pieces to work with on defense with DeForest Buckner, Reuben Foster, Solomon Thomas, Jaquiski Tartt and Eric Reid all looking like good players. This group can be improved immensely by being complemented with veterans, free agents, and draft picks. On offense, Kyle Shanahan is considered as one of, if not the best play-caller in the NFL. He has some players to work with – most notably Trent Taylor, George Kittle, Pierre Garçon, Carlos Hyde Trent Brown and Joe Staley. Noticeably there are some players to work with in key positions on offense – a veteran left tackle and a good, young right tackle. The interior of the line will need some work, but it will give a young quarterback sufficient time to throw, also the run game will be a calling card coupled with good pass catching options. A quarterback could definitely thrive here.
Kirk Cousins of the Washington Redskins is playing under a franchise tag and is a well documented fan of Kyle Shanahan, who was the Redskins offensive coordinator from 2010-2013. The case for Kirk Cousins – this year he’s completing 66.1% of passes for 1004 yards and seven touchdowns per ESPN.
Kirk Cousins is on pace to complete 66% of his passes for 4,016 yards, 28 TDs and four INTs. There’s no way Washington lets him leave.
— Rob Lowder (@Rob_Lowder) October 13, 2017
It’s quite the solid total when compared to the current 49ers incumbent starter under center, Brian Hoyer, who hasn’t thrown twenty touchdowns a season whilst being in the league nine years. Kirk Cousins has had two seasons of over 4,000 passing yards and 25 touchdowns or more since 2015 and is well on his way to that feat this season. Just watching Cousins play the game and complete passes in crucial moments will be pleasing on 49ers fans eyes after watching Hoyer struggle for the most part this season. Another appealing aspect to Kirk Cousins is his prior knowledge of the intricacies of Shanahan’s scheme and the ability to teach younger players and acting as a secondary coach in hopes of hitting the ground running. He comes from a team that has seen adversity and is now experiencing what teams who want to win a Super Bowl go through. This is valuable experience that can be lent to a roster which has a number of young players. The downside to Kirk Cousins? Well, he will be 30 by the time next season starts and you would be making a huge investment for five years or more in a player about to start and age where injuries are a factor in a rugged NFC west division. With Cousins looking to get paid before his window closes he’ll most likely be expecting Derek Carr and Matthew Stafford type money in the region of $25-27 million dollars a year, maybe more. To be exact, Stafford is making $135 million dollars over five years, $10 million more than Carr. To compare, Cousins would be making more money than Tom Brady, Aaron Rodgers, Drew Brees, Eli Manning, Big Ben, Matt Ryan, Cam Newton and Russell Wilson. What do these quarterbacks have in common? Well, all of these signal-callers have either played in a Super Bowl or won one. Stafford’s salary takes up about 17% the Lion’s cap room, and Derek Carr 15% of the Raiders. The two closest are Joe Flacco and Carson Palmer. Both of these quarterbacks are on declining teams, this is not to say they’re the reason why their teams are declining, but it plays a part in teams being able to build the rest of the roster through free agency and by keeping their own players.
Another option is Jimmy Garoppolo – Tom Brady’s back up in New England. Jimmy G has looked good when he is in the starting lineup, but seeing as Brady is not getting younger there is a good chance Garoppolo doesn’t hit the market. He has a quick release, goes through progressions, has a good arm and he has shown enough toughness to play the position. Of course, he’ll need to be paid handsomely and that is a scary thought for a front office personnel who is nervous about players with limited starts and game film. The ghosts of Mike Glennon’s and Brock Osweiler’s contracts loom large.
This takes us to this year’s college prospects via the NFL draft, and with the league current displaying many talented and promising, young passers, I must admit I’m excited about the thought of having our own. The plethora of young Quarterbacks on display right now include Marcus Mariota (TEN), Jameis Winston (TB), Carson Wentz (PHI), Dak Prescott (DAL), DeShaun Watson (HOU), and Jared Goff (LAR). These players have galvanized their teams and impressed with their adjustments to the fast and treacherous NFL game. Their respective teams now have a player they’re confident in and can build around these players in the hope of winning championships. This also helps with attracting free agents and keeping your own impending free agents. UCLA Quarterback Josh Rosen and USCs Sam Darnold are both California kids who know the 49ers very well are good NFL prospects. Both these players are draft eligible for the 2018 draft, Rosen a Junior and Darnold a redshirt Sophomore.
Rosen is a tall accurate passer who has been under center, his feet are great and he throws a beautiful ball. People who know him rave about his smarts and how detailed oriented he is. While he isn’t on the most talented team, he constantly puts up big numbers whilst making NFL-type throws every game. He suffered a shoulder injury last season but he shows no signs of it being an issue. Some persons unanimously say he’s cocky and abrasive, but from what I can see his teammates love him and his play on the field is very good. This year he’s handling pressure better but he still has to make some better decisions, and as a twenty year-old he has room for improvement and I expect him to make that jump. A smart player who’s natural thrower with that it factor sounds like a Kyle Shanahan quarterback to me. If Kirk Cousins isn’t available or too pricey this is the best consolation prize out there.
Then there’s Sam Darnold, a big kid who burst onto the scene last year after USC lost their starting Quarterback. Played in 9 games whilst winning the rose bowl in dramatic fashion versus Penn State. Darnold is a natural thrower with good accuracy and a decent arm; he’s a very smart player with next level pocket-awareness. He throws on the run and is extremely tough. Where he needs to improve is his decision-making, as this year he has thrown 9 interceptions, matching his tally from last season in less games. Slot him in with Kyle Shanahan and he will improve whilst getting a coach who has had success in the league with different types of quarterbacks.
The options are there for us, and with the 49ers already sending scouts too see both these prospects, I firmly believe we’ll be in the mix for a quarterback this offseason.
Hang on guys, help is on the way.