While 49ers coach Kyle Shanahan was miffed that he lost out on landing Matthew Stafford to the Los Angeles Rams earlier this offseason, one of his players doesn't seem too worried about what the veteran quarterback is bringing to their NFC West rival. Despite Stafford's arrival making the Rams a popular pick to come out of the NFC and threaten for a Super Bowl in 2021, 49ers safety Jimmie Ward isn't sure the quarterback will be as much of a difference-maker as most project, citing the Lions' inability to contend while Stafford was under center for them for the past 12 seasons.
"I like Stafford, but they still will have the same players that he'll be throwing the ball to," Ward recently told Grant Cohn of SI.com. "He's the same quarterback who was on the Detroit Lions and they still didn't go to the playoffs, and they had Megatron [Calvin Johnson]. What was the problem over there in Detroit? Are you going to blame the city? What was the problem? Was it the money? If the city didn't have enough money to bring players over there, why even have an NFL team? That's a big question mark.
"They went and traded Jared Goff, who went to the playoffs several times and went to the Super Bowl. Yeah, he lost. He went to the Super Bowl, though. I've yet to see that with Matt Stafford. And I'm saying, he's still great. I believe he's a top 10 quarterback, maybe top 5. I don't know. We'll see. I'm just going off of what I see. And I see Jared Goff got those boys to the Super Bowl."
Stafford has reached the playoffs just three times in his career and has yet to record a win in the postseason. Meanwhile, Goff was able to help bring Los Angeles to the brink of a championship after reaching Super Bowl LIII. That said, Stafford is a clear upgrade at quarterback for the Rams from a talent perspective. Will that translate into a deep playoff run that ends with a Lombardi Trophy? That remains to be seen. Los Angeles has, however, unquestionably created a higher ceiling for itself by bringing in Stafford, albeit possibly shortening its championship window given the quarterback's age and contract status.
If they are able to reach the proverbial mountaintop and win a championship, going all-in on Stafford will be well worth the gamble and Ward will likely be eating crow. If L.A. continues to be unable to break that glass ceiling, however, and Stafford's playoff struggles continue, the Rams will have put themselves back quite a bit from being a legit contender.