The San Francisco 49ers have not been quiet about their desire for an improved quarterback room. Starting quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo has struggled to stay healthy in recent years, and the team has reportedly tried to upgrade both the starter and backup positions throughout the offseason. While they missed out on Matthew Stafford, the latest rumors suggest they could be going after Teddy Bridgewater. Additionally, the 49ers could also be targeting the recently-released Alex Smith to usurp Nick Mullens as the primary backup.
NFL Rumors: Teddy Bridgewater, Alex Smith Could Be Going to San Francisco 49ers
Teddy Bridgewater Rumors
Teddy Bridgewater wasn’t an outright disaster during his first year in Carolina, but it is clear that the organization is looking for an upgrade. The team reportedly offered a fortune for both Stafford and Deshaun Watson, and are likely to take a quarterback early in the 2021 NFL Draft. This makes Bridgewater very expendable, and teams have inquired about his availability.
Bridgewater, a former first-round pick, completed 69.1% of his passes for 3,733 yards, 15 touchdowns, and 11 interceptions during his first year with the Panthers. Overall, he ranked 15th in EPA+CPOE, 19th in EPA/play, and 16th in success rate. By just about every measure, he was a slightly below-average quarterback and wouldn’t represent a dramatic upgrade on Garoppolo.
However, Bridgewater is considerably cheaper, and that could be the biggest draw for San Francisco. Garoppolo currently carries a $26.4 million cap hit and the team could clear $23.6 million if they part ways with the former second-round pick. If released, Garoppolo would probably land in New England and compete to be their next starting quarterback.
Alex Smith Rumors
Alex Smith is coming off one of the greatest comeback seasons in the history of football. After suffering a near-fatal leg injury in 2018, the former first-overall pick somehow found a way to overcome the odds and return to the football field. Not only did he make his way back onto the field, but he also led the Washington Football Team to the postseason.
Taking over for an injured Kyle Allen and an ineffective Dwayne Haskins, Smith guided Washington to a 5-1 record while completing 66.7% of his passes for 1,582 yards, six touchdowns, and eight interceptions. He clearly wasn’t his old self, but he provided just enough to clinch the NFC East crown. Unfortunately, a separate injury held him out of the postseason, as Taylor Heinicke ended up having one of the best games by a Washington quarterback in quite some time.
Smith has plenty of starting experience, especially with the 49ers. However, it’s hard to imagine him earning the lead role over Garoppolo. Smith was one of the worst quarterbacks by just about every metric, and the cap savings wouldn’t be enough to offset the drastic dip in play between Garoppolo and the veteran.
However, Smith probably would be an upgrade on Nick Mullens, which is very important for this offense. Garoppolo only has one 16-game season to his name, so there is a very real chance that the backup quarterback will play a large role on the 2021 San Francisco 49ers.
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