The 49ers may have just tipped their hand.
They say Jimmy Garoppolo will be their starting quarterback next season and they merely need "better options" backing him up. And then The Athletic reports that the 49ers called the Carolina Panthers about trading for quarterback Teddy Bridgewater.
Perhaps the 49ers see Bridgewater as the perfect backup for Garoppolo. But Bridgewater isn't cheap. He would cost them almost $18 million in 2021. Meaning the 49ers would spend almost $45 million -- more than 25 percent of their cap space -- on two average quarterbacks. Not smart.
If the 49ers acquire Bridgewater, he would replace Garoppolo, not back him up. So this report may reveal the 49ers' plans for next season.
Here's how I interpret this news.
1. The 49ers will draft a quarterback in Round 1 or Round 2 of the upcoming draft. Probably Round 1.
2. Once the 49ers draft a quarterback, Jimmy Garoppolo will be reduced to the status of "bridge quarterback," and an expensive one. He no longer will be the franchise guy, and fans won't care if the team gets rid of him. They'll like the new guy.
3. The 49ers will have to decide whether they want to pay Garoppolo $27 million to be their bridge quarterback in 2021, or pay Teddy Bridgewater $18 million to do the same job. There isn't much difference between those two, anyway.
4. The Panthers will wait until June 1 to trade Bridgewater so they can save an additional $5 million in cap space.
5. By this time, most of the veteran free-agent quarterbacks such as Andy Dalton, Ryan Fitzpatrick, Cam Newton and Alex Smith will have signed with teams, so Bridgewater will be one of the 49ers' only remaining options.
6. After June 1, the 49ers will trade Mike McGlinchey and/or a third-round pick in 2022 to the Panthers for Bridgewater.
7. The 49ers will trade or release Garoppolo after June 1 so they can save an additional $1.4 million in cap space.
8. Bridgewater will play quarterback for the 49ers until the rookie is ready to replace him.
Let's see if I'm right.