As the San Francisco 49ers, led by John Lynch and Kyle Shanahan, continue with their fundamentally sound and consistent approach of cleaning house from the ground up, the likelihood that 49ers look to the draft for their franchise QB continues to increase.
The luxury of having 6-year contracts allows ‘ShanaLynch’ to truly gut the place and build the team in their mold, and this approach is also conducive toward building the team through the draft in general.
Now that it has been confirmed that Colin Kaepernick will opt out of his contract, Kyle Shanahan plans to treat him like any other free agent QB, which translates to a snowball’s chance in hell that Kap plays another snap as QB for the 49ers. Heck, who knows if Kap plays in the NFL again.
Kirk Cousins is staying put in Washington for another year, and all signs point to the Patriots retaining the services of Jimmy Garoppolo. Even if these guys were available, Lynch and Shanahan might not have wanted to give up enough for these QBs because it doesn’t fit with their ground-up rebuild. Neither does making a splashy trade for an injury-prone veteran like Tony Romo.
That leaves the approach of finding a stop-gap free agent QB and looking to draft and develop their franchise quarterback of the future. If the 49ers did make a trade for QB, Shanahan would likely want to find a younger player he could develop and Lynch would likely not want to give up much for him, based on the trends we’ve seen so far.
Lance Zierlein is a draft expert from NFL.com and his latest mock draft has the 49ers taking UNC’s Mitch Trubisky with the 2nd overall pick and Clemson’s DeShaun Watson going to the Bills with the 10th pick. The only way Shanahan and Lynch will want to use their number two overall on either of these prospects, or any quarterback for that matter, is if they are absolutely sure the player is a franchise QB and there is no way of being absolutely sure.
If anything Shanahan and Lynch has shown us so far is that they are consistent in wanting to clean house and rebuild from the ground up and it’s ironically turning into an approach that might be considered Baalke-esque in some ways. But thankfully for the franchise, Shanahan will differ from Baalke in putting a higher priority on quarterbacks and skilled position players.
So based on recent trends, one might expect to see the 49ers go with a strong defensive player in the first round and investing multiple, later picks on quarterbacks such as Pat Mahomes or Jerod Evans. Since drafted quarterbacks will not be expected to start this season, the 49ers will also likely sign an efficient, undervalued free agent QB like Brian Hoyer and keep their ear on the ground and an eye on the door.
Luckily for 49ers fans, no matter what happens, there is very little chance that Shanahan and Lynch will finish worse than 2-14 in 2017, so there is no need to rush into a decision at QB.