- There's a very real chance that the 49ers will have no quarterbacks on their roster when the league's new year opens.
INDIANAPOLIS — Say this for John Lynch, general manager: He knows how to dance the dance.
The 49ers’ GM holds the No. 2 pick in the draft, and once Colin Kaepernick opts of his current contract to become a free agent, he won’t have a quarterback on his roster. So, it would make sense for Lynch to set his sights on a QB for that second-overall selection.
But there’s also no point in Lynch tipping his hand as to which way the 49ers may be leaning on March 2, hence Lynch singing the praises of all the top options—Deshaun Watson, Patrick Mahomes, DeShone Kizer and Mitch Trubisky—during his press conference Thursday.
Of Kizer, Lynch revealed that the 49ers already had interviewed the Notre Dame product this week and that Kizer “blew the doors off” that process. He’s “a very impressive young man,” Lynch said.
How does that compare to the “aura” Lynch said Watson carries? Or to, as Lynch put it, the “special tape” Mahomes has, or to that Trubisky “grows on you” the more tape you watch? Hard to score any of those comments officially, because the 49ers probably don’t have their board pinned down yet.
They also don’t want to give anything away in case the Browns are considering dealing the No. 1 pick. The odds on that might be low given Myles Garrett’s presence and Cleveland’s own QB needs. The nightmare scenario for Lynch right now, though, is that the 49ers’ front office falls in love with one of those quarterbacks, only to see him snatched up before they’re on the clock.
“As we’re planning, there’s a number of different scenarios we’re looking at,” Lynch said. “... A lot of people look at it like, ’Oh, my gosh, you don’t have any quarterbacks.’ But that’s also somewhat liberating, in that you can create this thing, at that position that is so critical, in the way you want it. ... We have the No. 2 pick and a lot of options because of it.”
March 2 marked the first day that Kaepernick could opt out of his remaining deal, which would pay him $14.5 million in base salary for 2017. The NFL’s opt-out period runs March 2–7, preceding the legal tampering period and free agency.
“We had a real nice meeting,” said Lynch of a recent discussion with Kaepernick, “and one thing in that meeting we talked to Colin about, having been a player, one thing I always wanted from coaches—I think any player—is just transparency. You want honesty. That’s what we were with Colin, and he was back to us.
“We both agreed that under the current construct, it wasn’t going to work out, but we said, ’Let’s not close the door.’ ... As he hits free agency, we’ll keep our eyes open and we want him to keep us in mind as well. We kept that door open in a very real and positive way.”
Strike Kaepernick from the roster, and the 49ers will have zero quarterbacks under contract—Blaine Gabbert, Christian Ponder and Thaddeus Lewis all are set to be free agents, too. Even if the 49ers pass on a quarterback at No. 2 (which would be a mild upset), they’re almost certain to draft that position somewhere.
Which one, and when, could be under wraps for until April 27. Lynch certainly didn’t tip his hand at all Thursday.