The 2021 NFL Draft is absolutely stacked at Quarterback. The San Francisco 49ers traded up until the third election to find an heir to Jimmy Garoppolo. The background is a media closing that comes to the conclusion that this could be the best class at quarterback since 1983.
That class included future Hall of Famers Dan Marino, John Elway, and Jim Kelly, who were three of six quarterbacks selected in the first round. It is considered to be the largest class of quarterbacks to enter the NFL in modern times.
What some fail to highlight about Class 83 is that three other lesser-known signal callers made the first round. Todd Blackledge went to the Kansas City Chiefs at 7:00 a.m. – 9:00 p.m. before the Miami Dolphins picked up Dan Marino. The New England Patriots grabbed Tony Eason a pick after the Buffalo Bills picked up Jim Kelly. Heck, Ken O’Brien was taken a few picks in front of Marino.
This should be a case study when it comes to evaluating quarterbacks to be included in the NFL draft. It’s a hit / miss proposition with busts appearing just as frequently as those considered generational talents. It’s also one of the few reasons we decided to play Devil’s Advocate and come to the conclusion that the 49ers shouldn’t take Trey Lance, Justin Fields, or Mac Jones at three.
Read more: San Francisco 49ers Mock Draft: Full Seven Rounds After Blockbuster Deal
Is Jimmy Garoppolo Really That Bad?
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I get it. San Francisco is about to use three picks for the first round and a future pick for the third round for an unproven player who has never qualified professionally. You’re only doing this move for a quarterback. It’s common sense.
Even so, Garoppolo is only more than 14 months away from leading the 49ers to a shocking Super Bowl appearance. Sure, their defense played a crucial role in this success.
Even then, it’s not that Garoppolo played the role of Trent Dilfer and rode the coattails of his defense. His regular season performance was similar to that of Joe Montana and Steve Young during their Super Bowl runs for yesterday’s dynastic 49ers teams.
- Jimmy Garoppolo: 69.1% completion, 3,978 yards, 27 touchdowns, 13 interceptions (102.0 rating)
- Joe Montana (1981): 63.7% completion, 3,565 yards, 19 touchdowns, 12 interceptions (88.4 rating)
- Joe Montana (1984): 64.6% completion, 3,630 yards, 28 touchdowns, 10 interceptions (102.9 rating)
- Joe Montana (1988): 59.9% completion, 2,981 yards, 18 touchdowns, 10 interceptions (87.9 rating)
- Joe Montana (1989): 70.2% completion, 3,521 yards, 26 touchdowns, 8 interceptions (112.4 rating)
- Steve Young (1994): 70.3% completion, 3,969 yards, 35 touchdowns, 10 interceptions (112.8 rating)
I get it. Different eras. Today’s NFL is friendlier to quarterbacks and passing games in general. But what if I told you that all five Montana and Young 49er championships included defenses that came in the top 10? It’s true. In fact, the 1981 and 1984 iterations included scoring # 1 and # 2, respectively.
That’s not to say Garoppolo is a franchise quarterback. The only conclusion to be drawn is that as long as the quarterback’s injury history doesn’t bite him in the back, he can do the job.
Read more: 2021 NFL Draft Big Board: Ranking the Top 100 Prospects
Imagine Kyle Pitts on the San Francisco 49ers
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A 6-foot, 6,219-pound hybrid passport catcher who has just executed a blazing 4.44-meter shot. Say what? That is the backdrop for this earlier narrow end of Florida, which goes into the 2021 NFL draft. For many experts, Pitts is not just a generation talent. Rather, chances are he could be the biggest tight end to ever play the game. This is not an exaggeration.
“While the player comparison is Darren Waller for the purposes of this scouting report, Pitts may have the qualities and talent for creating mismatches similar to those of Calvin Johnson and Tyreek Hill. His rare mix of size, athleticism and ball skills is reminiscent of megatrons, ”noted NFL draft guru Lance Zierlein in his scouting report.
The combo of Calvin Johnson and Tyreek Hill, who play on Kyle Shanahan’s offensive with all-pro tight-end George Kittle, is already in the mix? Where do we register for this? It’s soccer porn. In the presence of broad recipients, add Deebo Samuel as well as Brandon Aiyuk to start Raheem Mostert’s groundbreaking throwback and I could do well below the middle.
In all seriousness, Kyle Pitts is a perfect fit for Kyle Shanahan’s system with the San Francisco 49ers. Could you shock the world and go with the groundbreaking passport catcher?
Read more: Bold Predictions for 2021 NFL Draft
NFL draft history does not favor the San Francisco 49ers
Los Angeles Rams quarterback Jared Goff (16) is greeted by Green Bay Packers outside linebacker Za’Darius Smith (55) during the 2nd quarter of the Green Bay Packers, Los Angeles Rams NFC playoff game on Saturday , Jan. 16, 2021, in Lambeau Sacked Field in Green Bay, Wisconsin Packers Rams 03378
I covered the 1983 NFL draft above. But there are more recent examples of announced quarterback classes bombing big time. In 2015, Jameis Winston and Marcus Mariota went one and two.
After some initial success for both quarterbacks, they were kicked out of their teams after their rookie contracts expired. The following year, the Los Angeles Rams traded against Jared Goff, while the Philadelphia Eagles rose to the second selection for Carson Wentz. Both quarterbacks traded earlier this off-season after failing to live up to expectations.
This story has a moral. The 49ers will take on a quarterback at three o’clock later in April. You did not send a ransom to Miami for a player in any other location. But just like we’ve seen in the past few decades, that doesn’t mean the quarterback will be successful in the NFL. For every Patrick Mahomes there is a Josh Rosen. There is a Brady Quinn for every Josh Allen.
Just some food for thought.