This offseason was an eventful one in the NFL, but what could end up going down as the most consequential addition was the Los Angeles Rams trading for former Detroit Lions quarterback Matthew Stafford. The former No. 1 overall pick set multiple franchise records in Detroit, but was seemingly wasting away with a franchise that hasn't done much winning as of late. Now with the Rams, Stafford has a legitimate chance to win the Super Bowl in 2021.
When it was reported in January that Stafford and the Lions had agreed to part ways, there were multiple teams interested in acquiring his services. One team that had kicked the tires on the possibility of trading for Stafford was the Rams' rivals in the San Francisco 49ers, and when Sean McVay and the Rams' front office finally made a move, 49ers head coach Kyle Shanahan was not happy about it. Both head coaches recently appeared on the Flying Coach podcast with Sean McVay and Peter Schrager, and Shanahan discussed how upset he was when he heard Stafford was going to a rival.
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"You don't want to get me started, dude," Shanahan said, via NFL.com. "That was frustrating. I was in Cabo. I was studying it all. ... I remember looking through it because everybody was telling me it was a possibility. Stafford's the man. I studied him hard coming out of college, and you always play against him, so you know how good he is. But to know he might be available and to spend two weeks really watching him, Sean, yeah, he's better than I realized. He was the man. He's actually underrated to me. I know how good of a guy you got. I know how good he is at play-action. I know how smart he is. Not only does he just have a big arm, but he's got touch, he knows where to go with the ball. So I was trying to get involved in it.
"... I remember Saturday I was so stressed out and finally we talked to someone, it was seven at night, and they're like, 'No, nothing's happening (with a trade) at the earliest until tomorrow, so you can finish your night.' So I'm like, alright, I'm done. I put my phone down, talk to Mandy. I'm like, alright, 'Let's go out to dinner, let's have some drinks.' Half an hour later, my buddy calls me and is like, 'I'm just telling ya, if you want Stafford, you need to get a hold of him right now.' I'm like, 'What do you mean? We just talked to people. I can sleep on this. We'll talk to them tomorrow.' 'I'm just telling you, you need to talk to him right now.' And then it was all over."
The 49ers reportedly never made an official offer for Stafford, but they were clearly interested in the possibility. With Stafford out of the mix, the 49ers eventually got their quarterback of the future in Trey Lance with the No. 3 overall pick in the 2021 NFL Draft. The 49ers traded three first-round picks to move up in the draft order for the North Dakota State product, and he will battle with Jimmy Garoppolo for the starting job moving forward.
Things would have looked very different in the NFC West if Stafford went to the 49ers instead of the Rams. For one, the 49ers would be the favorites to win the division, and Garoppolo would likely be playing for another team.