There was some talk about a San Francisco 49ers trade for Detroit Lions quarterback Matthew Stafford. That came to a screeching halt once Stafford was dealt to the division-rival Los Angeles Rams in a blockbuster trade.
It wasn’t without conversations between the 49ers and Lions. Rather, Los Angeles offered up more for Stafford than its NFC West counterparts.
This has been somewhat of a common theme for San Francisco during the John Lynch era. An inability to pull off that blockbuster trade despite previously being in on both Khalil Mack and Odell Beckham Jr.
Below, we look at five San Francisco 49ers trade scenarios heading into the offseason as the team attempts to get back on track following an injury-plagued 2020 season.
San Francisco 49ers trade Jimmy Garoppolo to the New England Patriots
We’ve now heard multiple former Patriots players talk about the possibility that they bring back Garoppolo following the failed Cam Newton experiment. It makes sense for a number of reasons. Garoppolo excelled learning behind Tom Brady for four seasons. He just recently led San Francisco to a shocking Super Bowl appearance following the 2019 season before falling out of favor due to numerous injury issues this past year.
If the 49ers are dead set on finding an upgrade over Garoppolo, it makes perfect sense for the team to trade him. On the other hand, New England makes sense in that Garoppolo knows Josh McDaniels’ system and could be a stopgap starter for the aging Bill Belichick. A move of this ilk would likely net San Francisco a couple mid-round picks.
San Francisco 49ers trade for Michael Thomas
There’s a scenario in play that suggests San Francisco could roll with Garoppolo for one more season in an attempt to see what he can provide moving forward. Injuries and inconsistency aside, he has won a lot of games in the Bay Area. Perhaps, finding more talent at the skill positions to help Garoppolo out could be in the cards here.
Despite a drama-filled and injury-plagued 2020 campaign with the Saints, Thomas remains one of the most-skilled receivers in the game. There’s also reportedly a rift between the record-breaking pass-catcher and his organization. Could New Orleans be forced to trade the 27-year-old Thomas on the cheap? It’s a remote possibility. Salary cap issues and draft pick compensation aside, the 49ers should at least put in a call here. Teaming Thomas up with George Kittle, Brandon Aiyuk and Deebo Samuel would give Garoppolo no more excuses.
San Francisco 49ers trade down in 2021 NFL Draft
Most of the talk surrounding San Francisco has been a potential trade up to the second selection for a quarterback. That really doesn’t make any sense. Despite the injury woes this team saw during a six-win 2020 season, it is still talented enough to compete for a Super Bowl. Relying on a rookie quarterback makes little sense. Outside of Trevor Lawrence, there’s no magical fix in April’s draft.
That’s where a trade-down scenario from 12 could happen. The 49ers have over 30 players entering free agency. They need draft capital, both to replenish their depth and create flexibility in potential trades moving forward. Sure 49ers fans would like to see something more eye-opening, but a trade down from the top-12 to the bottom of Round 1 could make the most sense.
San Francisco 49ers trade for Sam Darnold
If the 49ers are unable to pull off a blockbuster deal for Watson (see below) or find another upgrade at quarterback, there’s a chance they simply attempt to find some competition for Garoppolo next season. That’s where Darnold would come into play. New York boasts the second overall pick in the 2021 NFL Draft. There’s every reason to believe general manager Joe Douglas will look for a signal caller of the future with that selection.
Realistically, it’s either New York moves Darnold or trades down from the second pick. If the team were to choose the former, San Francisco is potentially the best trade partner. Former 49ers defensive coordinator Robert Saleh is the Jets’ new head coach. Darnold fits what Shanahan likes to do on offense. He comes in relatively cheap in terms of a 2021 cap hit and could challenge Garoppolo for the starting job. Perhaps, offering up a third-round pick in 2021 and conditional 2022 mid-round selection could get this done.
San Francisco 49ers trade for Deshaun Watson
Obviously, this is what’s being bandied about a whole lot in recent weeks. It was back in 2017 that the 49ers passed up on both Watson and Patrick Mahomes in favor of Solomon Thomas. It was not a great way for the John Lynch and Kyle Shanahan era to start in Northern California. Now locked in to the 49ers long-term, there’s a chance this duo rights that wrong by pulling off an epic blockbuster for Watson.
Read More: 5 most realistic Deshaun Watson trade offers
We already know that Watson has demanded a trade from the Texans. And while the organization has pushed back against that, there’s every reason it will be forced to deal the reigning NFL passing champion. If so, San Francisco should be at the top of the line. Fans in the Bay Area might not like to hear this, but moving Nick Bosa, Garoppolo and two first-round picks for Watson makes the most sense for the organization. It’s that simple.