Fantasy Football Waiver Wire Pickups for Week 2   

It is waiver wire time!

By: Rishi Patel

Welcome to this new NFL column where I will be preaching my advice about which fantasy players you should pluck off your waiver wire each week during this NFL season. My name is Rishi Patel, I’m a sportswriter who’s dabbled across many sites and hopes to be the king of fantasy football advice one day.

During each NFL season, there are usually sleepers that emerge who you should pick up off the waiver wire due to various reasons, such as better performances than expected, injuries, etc. It’s important to make good use of the waiver wire as players from here could sometimes be good depth and even a starter for your team in critical stretches. Let’s look at some players you should consider for this week:

Emmanuel Sanders, Buffalo Bills

Veteran WR Emmanuel Sanders is no longer a fantasy stud, but he could certainly remain in the flex conversation going forward after putting up four receptions for 52 yards on eight targets in Week 1 with his new team, the Buffalo Bills. The veteran should be in contention for the WR2 role behind Stefon Diggs as the season progresses. He’s worth adding for now and potentially starting down the road if he shows out. 

Mark Ingram II, Houston Texans

The Texans have quite a jumbled backfield with a few backs fighting for touches, but Mark Ingram stood out in Week 1. Is he a starting play going forward? That’s probably something that doesn’t have an answer as we will have to wait and see if he takes the majority of touches in the coming weeks.

But he did well in Week 1 as he had 26 carries for 85 yards and a score. Meanwhile, Phillip Lindsay had only eight carries and David Johnson had three. Ingram’s a great player to stash on your bench for now. 

Elijah Mitchell, San Francisco 49ers

Mitchell will be one of the most popular pickups this week given that 49ers starting RB Raheem Mostert will be out for the season with a knee injury. When Mostert went down in Week 1, the rookie out of Louisiana stepped up big and took 19 carries for 104 yards and a score. 

Mitchell is a good candidate for the RB1 role going forward after this performance. He’s worth picking up in fantasy and could eventually become a good starting play if he shows consistency. For now, it’s best to add him only. 

Jimmy Garoppolo, San Francisco 49ers

Look, the calls for Trey Lance may keep picking up as the season progresses, but Jimmy G had a thing or two to show during Week 1’s close win over the Lions. The embattled QB put up 314 yards and a score on 68% completion. As long as the QB plays efficiently and turnover-free, it would be hard for coach Kyle Shanahan to bench him. Jimmy G. could certainly warrant streaming consideration if he plays like this in the upcoming games. 

Jamaal Williams, Detroit Lions

Former Packer Jamaal Williams, though expected to be the RB2 in Detroit behind D’Andre Swift, played like a RB1 in Week 1. Williams took nine carries for 54 yards and a score (compared to Swift’s 11 carries for 39 yards) and also chipped in in the passing game to the tune of eight receptions for 56 yards on nine targets. While Swift did have 65 yards receiving as well, the numbers for the two backs were more similar than many may have thought.

If Williams can keep up these types of numbers in the passing and rushing game, he would be a decent flex play each week. For now, he’s worth adding to your bench. 

Rondale Moore, Arizona Cardinals

While it’s evident QB Kyler Murray and WR DeAndre Hopkins are studs for Arizona, the team will need another WR to step up and play at an elite level. While Christian Kirk shined in Week 1, he hasn’t really stood out during his brief NFL career, but rookie Rondale Moore could start off his career with a bang.

Moore finished Week 1 with four receptions for 68 yards on five targets and looked fantastic in his NFL debut. While it remains to be seen if he can keep up these numbers, he’s certainly worth adding as depth. 

Tim Patrick and K.J. Hamler, Denver Broncos

The Broncos suffered a huge blow when Jerry Jeudy went down with a high ankle sprain in Week 1’s win over the Giants. Now, Jeudy will be out for roughly four to six weeks and Denver needs another WR to step up alongside Courtland Sutton.

The likely candidates to do that are Tim Patrick and K.J. Hamler. While none of these guys had a standout performance (Patrick: 4/39/1 and Hamler: 3/41/0) in Week 1, it’s expected both of these guys will see more targets now that things will be opened up a bit. Both are worth stashing right now. 

Why the QB situation may prevent the 49ers from winning the NFC West

The 49ers QB spot is a question mark

By: Andy Davies

The San Francisco 49ers are one of the most successful franchises in NFL history. Only the New England Patriots and Pittsburgh Steelers (both 6) have more Super Bowl wins than the 49ers (5). The 49ers’ five Super Bowls all came between the years of 1981 and 1994. They have lost two since, in the 2012 and 2019 seasons. The quarterbacks that led the 49ers to the Lombardi Trophy were Hall of Famers Joe Montana and Steve Young. Three of those five wins saw Montana as the starter and Young as the backup.

Young is seen by many as the best backup quarterback in history, considering the gold jacket that he earned despite many years as the backup to Montana. He would win a Super Bowl as the starter after the franchise moved on from Montana. Ever since Young decided to hang up his cleats, the 49ers have struggled to find his replacement. Have they found the guy in Trey Lance?

Perhaps, but here is why the quarterback situation involving Lance and current starter Jimmy Garoppolo could prevent the 49ers from winning the NFC West during the 2021 season.

Struggles Since Young

Jeff Garcia was the man to come in for Young. During his five seasons in the Bay, he threw for 113 touchdowns and 56 interceptions as well as 16,408 passing yards. He had a 35-36 record as a starter for the 49ers in the regular season and a 1-2 record in the postseason, meaning he never hit the heights of his predecessor.

Alex Smith was the number one overall pick in 2005, shattering Aaron Rodgers’ dreams. However, he was a good quarterback, not a great quarterback. Colin Kaepernick replaced Smith and took the 49ers to the Super Bowl. They ended up losing to the Baltimore Ravens in a game often called the ‘Blackout Bowl’. Kaepernick failed to live up to the standards he set that season.

He would be kicked out of the league for taking the knee in a protest against police brutality in 2016. He has not played a snap in the NFL since. Jimmy Garoppolo was traded from the Patriots to the 49ers midway through the 2017 season. He gave hope to the organization after winning all five of the games he started in 2017. The fanbase had hope going into the 2018 season.

Many non-49ers fans had San Francisco down as their dark horse for the season. A season-ending injury to Garoppolo in Week 3 saw the starting role shared between Nick Mullens and C.J. Beathard. However, the 49ers finished 4-12 as they went into 2019 with the second overall pick. Nick Bosa was selected and transformed the defense of San Francisco and Jimmy G had the best season of his career. He threw for 3,978 passing yards, 27 touchdowns and 13 interceptions. Despite these stats, Garoppolo saw his production limited in the NFC Championship game as the coaching staff decided to use more of their running game. This led to many questions leading to the Super Bowl. The 49ers threw away a ten-point lead in the fourth quarter as they would end up losing to the Kansas City Chiefs in Super Bowl 54.

Garoppolo was criticized heavily for an overthrown pass to Emmanuel Sanders that would have given San Francisco back the lead. His 2020 season saw a mixture of poor form and injury. During the 2021 offseason, the 49ers traded up with the Miami Dolphins to gain the number three overall pick. They took Lance with the pick, showcasing their intentions to eventually move off from Garoppolo. There is now talk of whether San Francisco and head coach Kyle Shanahan will start Lance in week one. The other scenarios discussed are either Lance coming in mid-season or sitting out the whole campaign as the backup to Garoppolo. The uncertainty will have a significant impact on the 49ers’ season.

The Strength of the NFC West

This is a problem that will affect all four teams in the best division in the NFL. There is a chance that all four teams can make the playoffs. Los Angeles has an exciting new quarterback in 2009 first overall pick Matthew Stafford. Both the Seattle Seahawks and Arizona Cardinals have quarterbacks in Russell Wilson and Kyler Murray that they would never dream of trading away. Meanwhile, the 49ers’ starting quarterback is largely unpopular by fans, due to a mixture of the overthrown pass in the Super Bowl, his poor 2020 campaign and his injury record.

San Francisco has the least trusted quarterback in the division. With the position being one of the most crucial in all sports, it does not bode well for a team when there is uncertainty in the position. Garoppolo may be benched at some point during the season for Lance. However, the 49ers would be putting a rookie that will still be learning the system into the toughest division in the NFL.

Learning From Mahomes, Jackson, Tua and Burrow

If San Francisco are to help Lance succeed, they will need to take some lessons from recent draft classes. Patrick Mahomes, widely seen as the best quarterback in the league, spent all but one game of his 2017 rookie season as a backup to Alex Smith. The Chiefs then traded Smith the following offseason and Mahomes has never looked back. In his first three full seasons as a starter in the NFL, he has reached two Super Bowls, winning one. He has also been crowned MVP and Super Bowl MVP and reached three successive AFC Championship games. All three have been at home. On the flip side, 2020 first overall pick Joe Burrow started in week one of his rookie year. He wouldn’t last the season, only playing ten games before injury curtailed his first NFL campaign. He was impressive before his injury but there are no guarantees he will be the same player when he returns.

Lamar Jackson was a backup to Joe Flacco during his 2018 rookie year but won the starting role midseason. He has since gone on to win an MVP award and is the future of the franchise. Meanwhile, the Miami Dolphins brought Tua Tagovailoa in mid-season but he struggled in his rookie season. He is seen to already be on the hot seat, with many feeling the Dolphins rushed him in. These examples all show there are reasons for the 49ers to be hasty when it comes to choosing when to bring Lance into the starting role.

Lance Or Garoppolo In 2021?

The 49ers will have to decide soon who their starter will be in 2021. Considering Lance has only played one full season (2019), he is likely to start the season as the backup. He only threw for a combined total of 31 passing attempts, two touchdowns and 1 interception across the 2018 and 2020 seasons, albeit the latter campaign being disrupted by the pandemic. He is likely to be a work in progress but his 28 touchdowns and 0 interceptions in 2019 mean that he is one for the future.

Garoppolo will likely start in week one but it was clear from the NFC Championship game that Shanahan doesn’t completely trust him.

Jimmy G is a capable quarterback but his health is a concern. Expect Garoppolo to remain as the starter provided the 49ers are winning games but for Lance to come in should Garoppolo either be injured or start the season poorly.

Should this happen, this will be the end of Garoppolo’s time in San Francisco. Depending on timing, he will then be traded either before the deadline or in the 2022 offseason.

Can The 49ers Returning Players Avoid A Repeat Of 2020?

This is key if the 49ers are to challenge for both the NFC West and the NFC. After earning the number one seed and reaching Super Bowl 54 during the 2019 campaign, San Francisco finished 6-10 in 2020 and bottom of the division. A ‘Super Bowl Hangover’ played its part but the main cause of such a decline was down to a colossal amount of injuries the team suffered. Along with the aforementioned Garoppolo, the 49ers also saw Bosa, Dee Ford, George Kittle, Raheem Mostert, Deebo Samuel and Solomon Thomas miss large chunks of the 2020 season due to injury.

San Francisco had 33 players reported questionable and there were 186 occasions when the 49ers reported a player on injured reserve. They had the second-most injuries of any team in the NFL over the past twenty years. Should all these players come back, then this 49ers roster will be one of the best in the league. This will make life much easier for whoever the San Francisco starting quarterback is.

However, from the strength of the division to the uncertainty at quarterback, San Francisco will find it tough to win the NFC West.

Why Jimmy Garoppolo could start in Week 1

Will Jimmy G start for the 49ers offense?

By: Adam Hulse (@AdamHulseSports)

Now entering his fifth season with the 49ers, Jimmy Garoppolo finds himself in a competition for the starting quarterback job for the first time since arriving in San Francisco. This is because the organization traded all the way up to the third overall pick in the NFL Draft this year to select Trey Lance out of North Dakota State. A move like this is only made out of necessity, and the extensive injury history of Garoppolo played a major factor in this decision. He has unfortunately only been able to complete a full season once in his seven year career.

The 49ers have a roster that is built to win now, as demonstrated by their 2019 season where they made it all the way to the Super Bowl before being defeated by the Kansas City Chiefs. The organization does not want to continue to gamble on the health of Garoppolo and run the risk of wasting another season while their championship window is still wide open. That’s exactly what happened in the 2020 season when Garoppolo was only able to play in six games and the 49ers finished their disappointing season in last place in their division despite being the defending NFC conference champions.

All of this was factored in and lead the 49ers to draft Trey Lance as the likely eventual replacement for Garoppolo. A player drafted this high is not just an insurance policy but a huge part of future plans. The real question is centered around when Lance will get his opportunity to start. There is an open competition in training camp right now, so either of the two quarterbacks could be the starter for week one of the regular season. Here is why Garoppolo will get one more chance to keep his job.

Developing the Rookie

While Lance is an extremely talented and athletic quarterback, he may need some time to develop into an NFL ready quarterback. He only started 17 games in his entire college career including only one game in 2020 because of the pandemic restrictions. His one complete season in 2019 was off the charts and what justified his high selection in the draft. He completed 67 percent of his passes for 2786 yards and 28 touchdowns with zero interceptions while also rushing for an additional 1100 yards and 14 touchdowns.

Lance has a very high ceiling due to his raw talent as well as his situation but it’s still unclear if he is ready to play at the NFL level because of his overall inexperience. He is young, didn’t play a ton of games at the college level, and when he did play it was not against the highest quality of opponents. The best plan of action to maximize his potential may be to wait and let him develop first before starting.

Returning to Glory

Putting the Lance situation aside, the main reason why Garoppolo will get one more chance to be the starter is because of how much success he and the team had in the 2019 season when he was fully healthy. The 49ers won their division that year, won the NFC Conference championship game, and were minutes away from winning the Super Bowl if not for a spectacular come back lead by Patrick Mahomes. It’s hard to justify moving on from the quarterback that got you that far if he can find a way to stay healthy and productive. The former has always been the issue for Garoppolo because he has really been solid overall when he is actually on the field.

In that 2019 season, Garoppolo completed 69 percent of his passes for 3978 yards and 27 touchdowns against 13 interceptions. He was good enough to lead the 49ers to the 4th ranked total offense at 381.1 yards per game and 2nd ranked scoring offense at 29.9 points per game. They also had the 2nd best total defense in the NFL that year at 281.1 yards allowed per game and the 2nd best rushing offense at 144.1 yards per game.

The 49ers are returning the large majority of their roster and coaching staff for the 2021 season so it’s very fair to believe that their defense and rushing attack will again be towards the very top of the NFL. If Garoppolo can repeat or improve on his 2019 production the 49ers will once again be in the conversation of Super Bowl contenders and that is why he will be the opening day starter. That being said, he will be on a short leash and will need to perform to keep Lance on the sidelines.

Potential Trade Destinations for Jimmy Garappolo

What is the best trade destination for Jimmy G?

By: Chris Thomas

The San Fransisco 49ers have made it clear that they do not view Jimmy Garappolo as the future of the franchise at quarterback after their blockbuster deal from last week. San Fransisco traded the 12th overall pick, their 2022 first-round pick, 2022 third-round pick, and 2023 first-round pick to the Miami Dolphins for the third overall pick in this year’s draft. It has been all but confirmed that San Fransisco plans to take one of this year’s top quarterback prospects with the third pick.

This year’s quarterback class is as deep as they come. There are expected to be five quarterbacks taken in the first ten picks of this year’s draft. To put it into perspective, the elite quarterbacks class of 2018 had five quarterbacks go throughout the entire first round. Many expect Clemson’s Trevor Lawerence and BYU’s Zach Wilson to be gone already by the time the 49ers pick. San Fransisco will likely select one of North Dakota State’s Trey Lance, Ohio State’s Justin Fields, or Alabama’s Mac Jones.

Now that the 49ers are expected to add a quarterback their incumbent starter Jimmy Garoppolo’s name a serviced as a potentially traded player. The rumors on Garoppolo’s availability have been conflicting. Shortly after the trade was announced 49ers head coach and general manager Kyle Shanahan and John Lynch told the media that they plan on keeping Garoppolo on the roster to begin next season. However now according to NFL Network’s Michael Giardi, it has come out that the 49ers asking price for Garoppolo is a first-round pick

A first-round pick seems like fair compensation for Garoppolo. This is considering that the Rams traded two first-round picks and a third-round pick (and Jared Goff) to the Lions for Matthew Stafford. The Colts also traded away a third-round pick and a conditional first-round pick to acquire Carson Wentz from the Eagles. Garoppolo’s value will likely be closer to Wentz than Stafford considering he is viewed in a similar light as Wentz. Both Garoppolo and Wentz have shown the ability to command an offense on a Super Bowl contending team. But both have dealt with their fair share of injuries and have been inconsistent with their production as of late.

It is difficult to pinpoint a perfect location for Garoppolo because every team who has a void at quarterback has filled it with an established veteran or will likely add one with their first-round pick on this year’s draft. But there are a few teams that could view Garoppolo as an upgrade over their current quarterback. A team may believe Garoppolo is the missing piece on their team that could get them in range to make the playoffs or possibly become a contender. Here are the teams that could trade for Jimmy Garoppolo before Week 1 of the 2021 NFL Season.

Denver Broncos

Potential Trade: Denver trades a Conditional 2022 First Round Pick to San Fransisco for Jimmy Garoppolo

There has been some speculation about the Denver Broncos looking for an upgrade at quarterback over current starter Drew Lock. After going 4-1 as a starter at the end of his rookie season Lock regressed instead of growing into a legitimate franchise quarterback. Lock went 4-9 as a starter last season in his 13 starts. He also averaged 225.6 passing yards per game, threw only 16 touchdowns, and had 15 interceptions. This performance by Lock was unexpected after Denver added former Pro Bowl running back Melvin Gordon and multiple rookies on the offensive side of the ball. Denver drafted wide receivers Jerry Jeudy and K.J. Hamler in the first two rounds then took center Lloyd Cushenberry in the third round.

At this point of the offseason, it appears that if Denver wanted to add a quarterback to push Drew Lock they could try to add someone like Jacksonville’s Gardner Minshew or Chicago’s Nick Foles. But if Denver wants to replace Lock then the only quarterback available that right now is a clearcut upgrade over Lock and could be the Broncos quarterback for the foreseeable future it is Jimmy Garoppolo.

From year one to year two Bronco’s head coach Vic Fangio’s team had regressed and lost two more games. Now with new general manager George Patton in house, there is urgency for Fangio to have success next season or Patton could move on from him and bring in his own head coach. This means Denver needs to have at least solid consistent production from the quarterback position next season. They cannot wait for Drew Lock to possibly show that he could be a starter.

Denver is loaded with talent on both sides of the ball. They have a veteran defense that after adding Kyle Fuller and Ronald Darby appear to be in a position to carry the team if necessary. While offensively Denver has enough young and veteran talent to keep them in games if they can get a quarterback under center that could take advantage of those weapons. There is a lot of uncertainty around whether Garoppolo is a star or not. But one thing is for certain when he has been under center or the 49ers he has consistently put them in positions to win. Denver needs a quarterback like that to put them over the edge and get them into potential playoff territory.

Denver should be willing to give a conditional first-round pick in 2022 to San Fransisco for compensation for Garoppolo. The conditions for the draft pick should mirror what the Colts and Eagles negotiated during their trade involving Carson Wentz. Garoppolo should have to play 75% of the Broncos offensive snaps or 70% and make the playoffs in order for San Fransisco to receive their first-round pick. But if Garoppolo fails to meet that criteria Denver should be able to give their third-round picks in both 2022 and 2023 to the 49ers for Garoppolo instead. Moving that high of a pick for Garoppolo is risky because he has shown that he is prone to get hurt and missing extended time. In the past three years, Garoppolo has missed 23 games which have hurt San Fransisco and is a large reason why they are moving on from him.

Carolina Panthers

Potential Trade: Carolina trades 2021 Second Round Pick (Pick 39), 2021 Third Round Pick (Pick 73), and Teddy Bridgewater to San Fransisco for 2021 Second Round Pick (Pick 43) and Jimmy Garoppolo

One of the biggest losers of San Fransisco trading up to third overall for a quarterback is the Carolina Panthers. The Panthers have made it very clear that they are looking for a quarterback to be an upgrade over what Teddy Bridgewater was for them last season. They believe that with an increased level of production at quarterback the Panthers could make the playoffs if the rest of the team plays the same or better than they did this past season.

Eight of the eleven losses that Carolina suffered last season were by eight points or less. They point the finger at Teddy Bridgewater who looked like a bridge quarterback rather than a long-term starter. After signing a three-year $63 million contract last offseason Bridgewater averaged 248.9 passing yards per game and threw only 15 touchdowns and 11 interceptions.

Carolina and San Fransisco swapping quarterbacks in a trade makes a lot of sense for a couple of reasons.

In early March it was reported by Joseph Person of The Athleticthatthe 49ers called Carolina about Teddy Bridgewater. Later reports said that San Fransisco was doing their due diligence by calling Carolina. But that means that the 49ers had somewhat of an interest level in Bridgewater to make the call. Bridgewater would be a perfect bridge quarterback for the 49ers because he would be able to run their offense well until the rookie is ready.

Also, another bonus for the 49ers would be that since Bridgewater was acquired via trade the 49ers would be able to move off of Bridgewater’s $21 million per year salary whenever they’re done with him without a dead cap hit.

For Carolina, Garoppolo would be what they’re looking for a quarterback who is an upgrade over Bridgewater. If he could stay healthy he is a major upgrade over Bridgewater that could be what Carolina needs to get over the hump. Trading for him also gives Carolina the option of taking the best player available at eight versus possibly taking the fourth or fifth quarterback available in the draft who may not be their guy. Garoppolo had a lot of success under offensive guru Kyle Shanahan, he could easily excel in Joe Brady’s system.

Since Carolina would be giving San Francisco another starting-caliber quarterback they likely would not have to give up a first-round pick in the deal. Along with Bridgewater, moving up four spots in the second round and adding a third-round pick is fair compensation for Garappolo.

New York Giants

Potential Trade: New York trades a 2022 conditional First Round Pick to San Fransisco for Jimmy Garappolo

After the moves, the Giants have made this offseason it seems the only thing that could hold the Giants back is the play at quarterbacks. In his second year, Daniel Jones still has not performed up to his draft status of the sixth overall pick. Jones did cut down on turnovers from his rookie year going from 30 to 21. But he only threw 11 touchdowns in 14 games. He also averaged only 210.2 passing yards per game.

It seems unlikely that New York would move on from Daniel Jones after only two seasons. Especially after investing the sixth overall pick in him. But it wouldn’t be crazy for Giants general manager David Gettleman and head coach Joe Judge to start evaluating their options at the position. The NFC East is extremely weak right now and with above-average talent at quarterback, the Giants could have the roster to win the division.

Being a former New England Patriot, Jimmy Garoppolo could have some type of relationship with Giants head coach Joe Judge who had coached in New England for eight seasons before getting the Giants job. Garoppolo would be able to handle the pressure that the media puts on New York quarterbacks. He was drafted to be Tom Brady’s replacement in New England and was the starting quarterback of an NFC Champion San Fransisco 49ers team. Garoppolo knows how to handle the media since he has been a part of winning teams in large markets. He could be the franchise quarterback that New York hopes Daniel Jones will eventually become.

Since there is risk involved when trading for a player like Garoppolo due to his injury history, it would only be fair for the Giants to have conditions that he would have to meet in order for the Giants to trade a first-round pick for him. The Giants would likely be comfortable moving a conditional first-round pick if Garoppolo played at least 75% of the snaps or 70% of the snaps and the team made the playoffs.

New England Patriots

Potential Trade: New England trades 2021 Third Round Pick (Pick 97), Sony Michel, and Stephon Gilmore to San Fransisco for Jimmy Garappolo

The most obvious fit for Jimmy Garappolo is to return to New England. It is no secret that Bill Belichick was extremely fond of Garappolo and viewed him as the eventual replacement for Tom Brady in New England. When both Garappolo and Brady were going hit free agency in 2017 Belichick and New England elected to extend Brady and traded Garappolo to San Fransisco for a second-round pick. The Patriots won another Super Bowl under Brady, but now that he is in Tampa Bay do not appear to have a long-term option at the position.

Last season New England took a chance on former MVP Cam Newton. He only averaged 177.1 passing yards per game and threw 8 touchdowns and 10 interceptions. But when considering he also rushed for 592 yards and 12 touchdowns he was a slightly below-average quarterback. New England gave Newton the benefit of the doubt since he lacked quality offense weapons this past year and gave Newton a one-year deal to prove he can do it with the new offensive weapons New England has brought in.

Even though Newton’s extension is worth up to $14 million he is only guaranteed to make $5.1 million. This means that from a financial standpoint New England could be comfortable bringing in another quarterback to compete or eventually replace Newton. The price tag of that quarterback shouldn’t matter since Newton’s guaranteed salary is similar to that of a veteran backup quarterback.

Trading for Garrapolo would give New England a proven veteran starting quarterback whose only flaw is health. He already knows the offensive system and has shown that he is capable of making a team with talented pieces a contender. Cam Newton would immediately become one of the league’s best backup quarterbacks. Offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels could also use Cam Newton comparably to how New Orleans uses Taysom Hill. Along with using Newton on quarterback draws and in goal-line situations, McDaniels could create a couple of plays that allows both Garappolo and Newton to lineup on the field at the same time.

For the past few seasons, Newton has shown that he is fully capable of playing at a (moderately) high level, but after the first two to three weeks Newton’s production declines. If his role was condensed he would possibly be able to maintain the level of production he has early in a season throughout a year.

Both Stephon Gilmore and Sony Michel are veterans on the Patriots that could help the 49ers if they were moved there in a deal for Garappolo. Since veteran players could be involved in a deal for Garappolo the Patriots could get away with only giving up a third-round pick from this year’s draft in the deal.

Gilmore is viewed as one of the league’s premier talents at cornerback. However, right now Gilmore would hit free agency in 2022 and New England may not get an extension done with him. New England may be able to maximize his value by trading him before the season starts. The Patriots have always had great cornerback depth and with both J.C. Jackson and Jonathan Jones under contract Gilmore appears to be a luxury for the Patriots. New England may prefer to extend Jackson this offseason over Gilmore. San Fransisco could be interested in adding a cornerback the caliber of Gilmore because Richard Sherman is not expected to return. The largest void on the 49ers roster is cornerback because Jason Verrett and Emmanuel Moseley are better suited to cover secondary receivers on opposing teams.

Sony Michel has been extremely inconsistent since joining New England. After rushing for one 900 yards and six touchdowns in his first two seasons, Michel only rushed for 449 rushing yards and a touchdown on 79 attempts in nine games. He seems to have regressed from the feature back in New England’s committee to a member of that committee. A change of scenery may be able to return a spark to Michel to replicate his production from his first few seasons or even live up to his first-round price tag. The best place for that to happen would be in Kyle Shanahan’s offense that is extremely running back-friendly. The 49ers could use another member of their committee after all the injuries that occurred at that position for them. On top of that veterans, Tevin Coleman and Jerick McKinnon are no longer on the team.

Top Draft Targets for 49ers

Is Jimmy Garoppolo the long-term answer at quarterback?

By: Mike Obermuller

The San Francisco 49ers franchise has not had the best year and change since losing the Super Bowl in February of 2020. The injury bug came back during the 2020 season after its momentary respite (the Niners had been hit hard by injuries the previous two seasons before their NFC Championship run). Then, after going from first to worst in the NFC West with a 6-10 record, the capper was losing defensive coordinator Robert Saleh and a large chunk of their staff to the New York Jets. Passing game coordinator Mike LaFleur and offensive line coach John Benton were amongst the notable coaching losses.

NFL free agency has come with mixed results as well. Here are some of the more important ins and outs for the Niners this March:

Re-SignedAdditionsLossesUnsigned
Trent Williams, LTAlex Mack, CSolomon Thomas, DLRichard Sherman, CB
Jaquiski Tartt, SSamson Ebukam, OLBKendrick Bourne, WRTevin Coleman, RB
Jason Verrett, CBTavon Wilson, DBKerry Hyder, DEJerick McKinnon, RB
Jeff Wilson Jr., RBZach Kerr, DTAhkello Witherspoon, CBJordan Reed, TE
Emmanuel Moseley, CBRonald Blair, DENick Mullens, QB
D.J. Jones, DTBen Garland, C/G

After their most recent moves, San Francisco should have a little less than $18 million in cap space, and a total of nine draft picks to work with in filling what holes they have left. The biggest questions marks are undoubtedly still at quarterback, wide receiver, cornerback and guard.

As you can see, general manager John Lynch and head coach Kyle Shanahan have much more room to operate in the 2021 NFL Draft than they did a year ago. Here are a few players that the 49ers may target in the first couple rounds.

4. Wyatt Davis, G (Ohio State)

The fourth ranked offensive guard on WalterFootball, Wyatt Davis, excelled as a run blocker in college. The 6’4″ Buckeye helped pave the way for Trey Sermon and Master Teague III last season, but was less reliable in pass protection. This fits the Niners M.O. though. Shanahan loves to pound the ball on the ground, and assuming San Francisco keeps all their picks, they may be able to grab Davis with that third round selection.

If another team nabs Davis, a secondary option might be Notre Dame guard, Aaron Banks, another interior lineman that loves to creates gaps for his running backs.

3. Greg Newsome II, CB (Northwestern)

The Niners definitely need a cornerback to replace Richard Sherman. Rather than signing one, they should get younger at the position and build through the draft. That second rounder could definitely nab a quality corner like Greg Newsome II out of Northwestern. Newsome is 6’1″ 190 pounds, and he’s known for his intelligence and toughness as a shut-down corner in college. He had some injury issues during his time at Northwestern, but his 2020 stats were really impressive. Off 34 coverage targets, Newsome only allowed 12 catches and 93 yards through the air. Here’s the Wildcat in action.

2. DeVonta Smith, WR (Alabama)

San Francisco could also use another offensive weapon, especially if they stick with Jimmy Garroppolo at quarterback. Early mock drafts had wide receivers DeVonta Smith and Ja’Marr Chase going in the top five, but that ludricrous notion has since gone with the wind. Wide receivers rarely get drafted that high, even ones that are as skilled as Smith and Chase, and the fact is even franchises that want them may have the option to trade down and draft them anyway. One team that may be in the market for a wide-out is the Miami Dolphins, who currently sit third in the draft. The Philadelphia Eagles and Detroit Lions may also be in the mix at this position (number six and seven in the order), but both teams have other needs as well.

The 2020 Heisman Trophy winner has dropped below Chase in positional ranks due to his size (and some analysts also have Jaylen Waddle ahead of Smith). That means he could fall to 12 overall, which would make the perfect fit alongside Brandon Aiyuk and Deebo Samuel in this young wide receiver core. Smith is thought to be the best pure route runner in the draft, with incredible hands and effortless talent. That sounds like a Shanahan scheme fit that could drive opposing teams mad (considering they already have to guard excellent route runners like Aiyuk and Samuel).

1. Trey Lance, QB (North Dakota State)

The 49ers could also go all in on a quarterback in the first round. Some analysts have Trey Lance getting selected as high as number four overall now, as the typical quarterback hype gains more and more steam heading towards draft night. The North Dakota State QB has been compared to Josh Allen due to his physical attributes, but his lack of experience against top talent may be a concern for some NFL teams. San Francisco has also been tied to Justin Fields in mocks, but at number 12 it seems even less likely they get their hands on the Ohio State star.

Whether it’s Lance or Fields, the Niners would probably have to trade up to get their guy if they choose this route, costing themselves future draft capital. This doesn’t appear to be an issue for Lynch though. The GM has been very active in the Deshaun Watson sweepstakes this offseason, and Deshaun would cost just as much (or more) as it would take to move up in the first round.

So is Garoppolo the long-term answer in San Francisco? The 49ers brass definitely don’t seem to think so, begging the question, who does?

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