After another disappointing outing, the San Francisco 49ers will go into another offseason where we will see significant changes.
Quarterback Nick Mullens Jersey continued his quest to help the Niners shoot up the draft board with three turnovers that resulted in 17 points for the Dallas Cowboys. In last week’s loss to the Washington Football Team, Mullens had a fumble and interception that were taken back to the house.
Over his five last starts, Mullens has turned the ball over 10 times, which resulted in 37 points for the opposition. Every quarterback has interceptions, but the number of times Mullens has errant throws that he just completely misses where the defender is on the field have been frustrating
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The fact Kyle Shanahan hasn’t decided to start C.J. Beathard Jersey should give us an indication of what the head coach thinks about the 2017 third-round pick. The two games against Dallas and Washington were entirely winnable with a semi-competent quarterback. Instead, San Francisco lost both affairs and will miss the playoffs for the sixth time in seven seasons.
This sets up a fascinating offseason for the 49ers where they will have to make some decisions on what to do at the most crucial position in the game. Jimmy Garoppolo Jersey will hopefully be ready to go for the start of the 2021 season, but it remains to be seen if Lynch and Shanahan will roll with him again next year. Mullens is a restricted free agent, while Beathard is a UFA. Given Garoppolo’s injury history, the franchise needs to bring in a veteran backup if he returns next season.
What are some of the team’s options to address the QB position during the offseason?
The 2021 NFL Draft
As things currently stand, San Francisco will have the 11th pick in the 2021 NFL Draft. There are three teams ahead of the Niners who are likely taking a quarterback. The New York Jets, Jacksonville Jaguars and Carolina Panthers have major question marks at quarterback and are in line all pick in the top four.
Clemson’s Trevor Lawrence is a shoo-in to go No. 1, while Ohio State’s Justin Fields is widely regarded as the second-best prospect at the position in this year’s class. After Lawrence and Fields, some of the other options expected to be available are Trey Lance, Zach Wilson and Kyle Trask.
The Atlanta Falcons, Dallas Cowboys and Detroit Lions are also ahead of the 49ers on the draft board and could move on from their own veteran options. But, if the Niners lose their final two contests, they should be picking somewhere in the top eight. Lynch and Shanahan could also look to trade up to get their man but would likely have to give up a ton to move up the board.
Another option for San Francisco is to take a QB in the middle rounds to try and groom behind Garoppolo for the next year or two. Unfortunately, other than Russell Wilson and Dak Prescott, no other QBs selected in the third round or later over the last 10 years has amounted to much.
Four of the seven Dallas scores were set up by turnovers from the 49ers (5-9), who became the second Super Bowl runner-up in the past 13 seasons to finish with a losing record the next year. San Francisco was eliminated from playoff contention with the loss and Arizona’s win later in the day.
The Cowboys (5-9) are a game back in the NFC East with two games remaining but have to win both against Philadelphia and the New York Giants while Washington loses twice.
Dallas won consecutive games for the first time in coach Mike McCarthy’s first season by holding off an old playoff rival in a matchup that was moved out of prime time with both teams starting the day in last place in their divisions.
“If we don’t take care of our own business, nothing else matters,” McCarthy said. “We’re clearly focused on what’s in front of us. We really want to finish strong with these two division games. That’s clearly my focus.”
Andy Dalton threw for two touchdowns, and Greg Zuerlein kicked a tiebreaking field goal early in the fourth quarter after the second interception by Nick Mullens, who was replaced by C.J. Beathard after losing feeling in his elbow.
Beathard handled the last two possessions and threw a 49-yard Hail Mary touchdown to Kendrick Bourne Jersey on the final play.
Mullens also lost a fumble that led to one of two early touchdowns for a 14-0 Dallas lead a week after the backup quarterback had a fumble and interception returned for TDs in a loss to Washington.
“I really wanted the guys to come out and play good football, and I think offensively, defensively and special teams guys did a lot of good things,” coach Kyle Shanahan said. “When you have four turnovers, it doesn’t matter what you do, especially when you’ve got zero.”
Jeff Wilson Jersey‘s 1-yard run for San Francisco tied the game at 24 late in the third quarter on one of the Niners’ four TD drives of 75 yards. Rookie Brandon Aiyuk Jersey and Jordan Reed Jersey had short TD catches to cap drives earlier in the game.
Mullens had a chance to lead the 49ers to a tiebreaking score, but safety Donovan Wilson’s first career interception put Dallas in position for the lead. After three straight incompletions, Zuerlein kicked a 46-yarder for a 27-24 lead.
“Why I stuck with Nick through a pick there in the fourth quarter, I thought he had been playing well, we were in a tight game,” Shanahan said. “I’m not just going to take a guy out in the fourth quarter right in a tight game right after he throws his first interception.”
Anthony Brown had the second pick of Mullens, and Pollard broke several tackles on a clinching 40-yard score. Pollard, who had a 1-yard TD plunge early, finished with 69 yards. Dallas had 47 yards rushing before Pollard’s long TD.
“In the second half, I feel like we were just trying to find a way to get a first down, we weren’t able to run the ball very well,” Dalton said. “That run he had at the end of the game was special. But we’ve got to find a way to be most consistent in the run game.”
Elliott, who was ruled out before the game after being listed as questionable, said he felt a “tug” in the calf Saturday.
“I can play with pain and soreness, but with a tug, I can’t be as explosive as I need to be,” Elliott said. “I’m not shutting it down. We’ll see how it goes and I’ll see if I can get out there next week.”
Before Bourne’s Hail Mary catch on the final play, CeeDee Lamb returned an onside kick 47 yards for a Dallas touchdown. The obvious reaction was that the rookie receiver should have gone to the ground to let Dallas run out the clock. But Lamb said it was “just too open.”
“It was almost like you can’t blame him,” McCarthy said. “Those are great corrections to have in your team meetings on Wednesday.”
Dallas long snapper L.P. Ladouceur set an NFL record for regular-season games by a Canadian-born player, making his 251st game official on a first-quarter punt. The 39-year-old Montreal native broke kicker Eddie Murray’s record of 250 games from 1980-2000.
49ers: RB Raheem Mostert Jersey left with an ankle injury. He’s missed four games because of an ankle injury this season. … S Jimmie Ward Jersey sustained a concussion late in the first half and didn’t return. … DE Dion Jordan Jersey injured a knee and didn’t return.
Cowboys: S Xavier Woods left with a rib injury and didn’t return. … LB Leighton Vander Esch and DT Antwaun Woods didn’t return after spraining ankles. … WR Michael Gallup, who had a first-half touchdown catch, injured a hip in the second half and didn’t return.
49ers: At Arizona in an actual road game Saturday in the stadium that has become San Francisco’s temporary home. It will be the sixth of seven straight games outside of California to finish the season after Santa Clara County banned contact sports over COVID-19 issues.
Cowboys: The final home game next Sunday against Philadelphia.
As mentioned above, New York will likely take a QB in the 2021 draft just three years after selecting Sam Darnold third overall. Shanahan and Lynch could trade a mid-round pick for Darnold and bring him in to compete with Garoppolo. Darnold’s cap hit is just over $9.7 million for 2021, and whichever team he’s on can pick up his fifth-year option for the 2022 season. Darnold hasn’t had a chance to succeed with Todd Bowles and Adam Gase as his head coaches.
Trading for a veteran
The Falcons may look to move on from veteran Matt Ryan after firing head coach Dan Quinn earlier in the season. The 35-year-old had his best years when Shanahan was his offensive coordinator, winning NFL MVP in 2016. Ryan is due roughly $119 million over the next three seasons.
Detroit also let go of its head coach, moving on from Matt Patricia. Matthew Stafford has been with the organization since he entered the league in 2009 and has failed to win a playoff game. It would most likely cost San Francisco a first-round selection to get Stafford, but the total package will be less than it would take to move up the draft board. Stafford has two years left on his deal with a cap hit of just under $35 million in 2021 and $27.95 million in 2022.
Stick with Garoppolo
To me, this is the best option for the 49ers. Garoppolo is 22-8 as the starter since being traded to San Francisco. The team was seven minutes away from winning the Super Bowl in 2019. We have also seen the results when he’s on the sidelines and Mullens in starting. No one will mistake Jimmy G for the second coming of Joe Montana Jersey, but the team has shown it can win with him as the starting quarterback.
Garoppolo has his limitations. His decision-making leaves a lot to be desired, and his struggles with throwing head-scratching interceptions are apparent. The Niners ran all over the Minnesota Vikings and Green Bay Packers in their postseason victories last season, which resulted in Garoppolo’s playoff stats being underwhelming. But, looking at the results, Shanahan was correct in leaning on the rushing attack against a pair of opponents who had no answer against the run.
The 29-year-old has two seasons remaining on his deal. He’s owed $26.4 million in 2021 and a dead cap hit of $2.8 million, per spotrac. Garoppolo’s contract has him making $27 million in 2022, with a dead cap of $1.4 million, meaning the organization can walk away from him with a minimal financial impact over the next two years.
Garoppolo’s injury history is obviously concerning. He has missed 21 games over the past three seasons, so questioning his durability is entirely valid.
San Francisco has some high-end talent on the roster. George Kittle Jersey, Fred Warner Jersey and the returning Nick Bosa Jersey give the organization a nucleus they can build around for years to come, but management has to get the quarterback position right.
The 49ers should bring Garoppolo back for one more “prove it” season, but sign a capable backup who won’t torpedo the team’s record if Jimmy G goes down. The other option is drafting the long-term solution and letting him develop behind Garoppolo.
Either way, it’s going to be an exciting offseason.
What do you think is the Niners’ best option at the QB position next season?