The San Francisco 49ers may have found their quarterback of the future. According to a report from ESPN's Adam Schefter, the 49ers acquired Jimmy Garoppolo from the New England Patriots in exchange for a 2018 second-round pick.
Major QB shakeup: 49ers trading 2018 2nd-round draft pick to New England for Patriots’ QB Jimmy Garoppolo, sources tell ESPN.— Adam Schefter (@AdamSchefter) October 31, 2017
Garoppolo, the Patriots' 2014 second-round pick, had a successful stint filling in for a suspended Tom Brady last season (68.3 completion percentage, four touchdowns, zero interceptions, 8.0 yards per attempt, 113.3 passer rating on 63 pass attempts), and subsequently became an incredibly hot trade commodity during the 2017 offseason, with rumors flying all over about several teams trying to acquire his services.
He now heads to San Francisco, where quarterback guru Kyle Shanahan is the head coach. Shanahan guided the MVP season of Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan in 2016, which led to his being hired in San Francisco. He'll now attempt to mold Garoppolo into the kind of passer that leads the 49ers into the future. He appears to have the requisite talent based on what we've seen on the field, but it's important to remember that he has thrown a total of 94 passes in three years. That's an incredibly small sample size.
We'll see if Shanahan can get more out of him than the two quarterbacks that have started for the Niners this season. The 49ers signed Brian Hoyer this offseason to be their stopgap starter, but pulled him in favor of third-round pick C.J. Beathard in Week 6. Beathard has completed 52.7 percent of his passes at 5.9 yards per attempt, while throwing two touchdowns and three interceptions over the last two-plus games, losing his starts to the Cowboys and Eagles.
How does Garoppolo joining the 49ers affect Fantasy leagues? Heath Cummings has
Hoyer, who has served as the backup in New England before, is being released. He immediately becomes a candidate to sign with the Patriots to occupy the now-vacant role as Brady's backup.
And another shoe drops: 49ers are releasing QB Brian Hoyer, per source.— Adam Schefter (@AdamSchefter) October 31, 2017
Of course, the 49ers only have eight games to figure out if Garoppolo is worth their trouble, because the quarterback is set to become a free agent this offseason. That's not a very big window through which to view his future potential, but their willingness to surrender a second-round pick in exchange for his services points a big arrow toward their willingness to pay him handsomely as well.
For what it's worth, SportsLine's Stephen Oh ran some numbers on the Garoppolo-led 49ers. Assuming Garoppolo starts from Week 10-17, their projected win total rises from 2.9 to 3.3, and their average win percentage increases by six percentage points.
San Francisco had been heavily rumored to be interested in signing Washington quarterback Kirk Cousins this coming offseason, but surrendering a second-round pick for Garoppolo will likely put a rest to those whispers. With the 49ers likely out of the bidding, it's unknown what the market will be for Cousins if he does not come to a long-term agreement with Washington.
For the Patriots, they acquire what is likely to be one of the top picks in the second round of the draft. Bill Belichick loves getting as many shots at the draft as possible, and especially loves getting high second-round picks that generally yield similar value as late firsts, but without quite as large a financial commitment. Still, it would not at all be surprising to see Belichick deal this pick to move down for multiple selections, or for a first-rounder in 2019. That's just what he does.
This is also the second Brady backup the Patriots have traded in the last few months. They traded Jacoby Brissett to the Colts shortly before the start of the season, receiving former Colts first-rounder Phillip Dorsett in return. Brissett has flashed some long-term potential during his stint filling in for Andrew Luck, but Dorsett has not been a factor in New England.
The Pats do not have another quarterback on their roster, so they will have to turn to the outside for backup help. As mentioned earlier, Hoyer makes sense as an option, as he previously played with the Patriots from 2009-2011.