The Superbowl window is wide open for the San Francisco 49ers. How can they jump through it and claim their sixth championship?
Entering the offseason, the 49ers were at a crossroads. They had the fourth-oldest roster in the NFL in 2020 and, as they navigated through free agency, the roster became the second oldest in the league. It seemed to many that keeping their big name free agents on the team was the correct move.
But what if it didn't work? An aging roster that isn't winning is nearly impossible to fix without blowing up the whole thing from the top down. However, on March 26, much like in the movie Dumb and Dumber when Lloyd Christmas traded the pup mobile for a scooter that got 70 miles to the gallon, the 49ers totally redeemed themselves! Some would argue three first round picks is too big of a haul for the third quarterback taken in any draft. Fair point, but there are two things that make the deal completely worth it. First, you are not paying a quarterback on a rookie wage scale nearly as much as you are paying a proven veteran. Second, skipping first round picks for the next couple years means even more money saved.
When a franchise has money to boot over the next few years they do not need to make tough decisions. Decisions that shake a fan base to their core, one like getting rid of a bona-fide leader and star in DeForest Buckner. In fact it does the opposite, it means not only can they retain in house talent but they can splurge on proven veterans. As it sits today if the 49ers choose to hand the keys over to Trey Lance while moving on from Jimmy Garoppolo they can have the most cap space in the NFL.
Ever played poker and been the chip leader at the table? It allows you to bully your opponents and force them to fold hands they would normally play, even if you don't have the best hand at the table. Enter the 49ers good friends from March 26, the Miami Dolphins.
They are currently holding a strong hand with a great cornerback tandem, but the flop came up and it doesn't look good. Xavien Howard has requested a trade, even worse he has done so publicly and to pile on he has done it at arguably the worst time of year for the Dolphins to get max value in return for him. Just over one year ago Darius Slay was traded to the Philadelphia Eagles for third and fifth round draft picks. Slay was 29 years old and coming off three consecutive trips to the Pro Bowl along with being a first team All Pro in 2017. Howard is 28-years old, coming off of his second Pro Bowl appearance and his first first-team All Pro selection. This tells me that Howard can be had for second and fourth round draft picks.
As it stands now, the 49ers biggest concern is their cornerback depth. Their best corner, Jason Verrett, is 29-years old and has an extensive injury history. If he were to miss time it could derail the 49ers chances at capturing a Lombardi trophy. It stands to reason that the 49ers will likely spend their second-round pick in 2022 on a corner as they will have multiple free agents at the position who will be thirty plus years of age.
If Kyle Shanahan and John Lynch want this team to climb through the proverbial window, they will need to continue taking risks and be willing to spend big while they have money at their disposal. It is time to move on from Garoppolo's contract and go all in on a player of Howard's caliber.