Sarah Stier / Contributor

Football is a game of inches and minutes, and not simply on the field of play. The same units of measurement can be applied to the ongoings in front offices around the NFL, considering how scathingly close some deals come to not getting done. Such is apparently the case for the Carolina Panthers, who recently struck a deal to send their 2021 sixth-round pick along with their second- and fourth-round picks in 2022 to the New York Jets in exchange for quarterback Sam Darnold. Because before that deal was agreed to, the San Francisco 49ers tried their hand at landing the former third-overall pick, and they weren't shy about it.

The 49ers reportedly offered the Jets their first-round pick -- 12th overall in this year's draft -- in the hopes of acquiring Darnold, per Cecil Lammey of 104.3 The Fan in Denver, but the timing of the offer is a key reason the Jets didn't accept it. At the time, as in earlier this offseason, the Jets were seemingly still concerned about the shoulder of Zach Wilson, whom they've continuously been eyeing as potentially the new face of their franchise. 

Those concerns were laid to rest when they watched him at the BYU pro day on March 26, and suddenly felt great about the decision to move on from Darnold and to pull the trigger on a QB (read: Wilson?) with the second-overall pick.

It was too little, too late in the eyes of the 49ers, though, who came to terms with the Miami Dolphins on a blockbuster trade that saw the 49ers send the Dolphins a package that included their 2021 first-round pick along with a first- and third-round pick in 2022 and first-round pick in 2023 to move up from No. 12 to No. 3 on the draft board. Not so coincidentally, the deal landed the same day the Jets were viewing Wilson's pro day, hinting strongly at their being credence to the rumor of the 49ers having been turned down prior to shipping this year's first-round pick to South Florida to move up and inevitably select their quarterback of the future. 

It was a move reasonably painted as many as the looming end of the Jimmy Garoppolo era in San Francisco, a point hammered home and simultaneously undercut by head coach Kyle Shanahan and the 49ers brass, who admit they likely angered their starting quarterback but contend he'll be in uniform for 2021 -- additionally stopping short of predicting what's to come in 2022. And considering it now appears they made not one, but two attempts at finding his successor, it feels a foregone conclusion he'll be in another uniform sooner or later. Time will tell if the prediction of running back Raheem Mostert will first come true before that happens. 

Garoppolo can't blame Darnold for what happens next, however, although Teddy Bridgewater won't have that luxury -- having now been given permission by the Panthers to seek a trade partner only one year after signing a three-year, $63 million deal. Darnold, who recently admitted he expected to "play 20 years" for the Jets, will now try to build something for himself in Charlotte, but was nearly headed to San Francisco, if Wilson's pro day was held sooner.