The San Francisco 49ers tried to upstage the Duane Brown trade (formerly the Jeremy Lane-Duane Brown trade) late Monday afternoon when they traded a 2018 2nd round pick to the New England Patriots for quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo. Unfortunately for Niners fans, this move likely sets the franchise rebuild further back.
First and foremost. Jimmy G is unlikely to actually be good. QBs drafted 2nd round or later rarely amount to much. You basically have Drew Brees, Derek Carr and Andy Dalton as shining examples of 2nd round picks. Carr and Dalton are average QBs, at best. The numbers are not much rosier if you expand the scope of the search.
From 2001-2015, 85 QBs have been drafted in the rounds 2-5.
50 of them have thrown at least 94 pass attempts. Of those 50 passers, 14 of them have a winning record. Of those 50 passers, 20 have an AY/A above 6 (which was roughly average in 2001 and nearly a full standard deviation below average in 2015).
[NB AY/A is calculated as follows (Yards+(20*TDs)-(45*INTs)/Attempts]
Just 9 of those 50 passers have an AY/A above 7.0 (nearly a full standard deviation about average in 2001 and roughly average in 2015). Yes, this excludes Dak Prescott, but I wanted to not penalize his fellow late-round QB picks for not having the opportunity he did. After the first round, your QB has between a 9/85 (pessimistically) and 20/85 (optimistically) chance to have some modicum of NFL ability. A few high profile exceptions such as Brees, Russell Wilson, and Kirk Cousins do not change the fact that a mid-round QB is a bad bet.
Ok, but trading for a mediocre QB is not a crime, especially when the options on SF are so terrible. For the right price, this could absolutely be a solid deal. But a second round pick is not the right price. The Niners are a bad team and currently headed right towards their second consecutive second overall pick. That would put their second rounder right at the top of the round. Picks 33-36 average about 22 AV for the first 5 years of their career (from Football Perspective’s draft value chart). 13 (out of 85) QBs drafted between the second and fifth rounds earned over 20 AV for their entire career. At virtually every other position, a player can get some rotational snaps (OL may be the exception, but there are 5 OL spots compared to 1 QB spot) and provide some value on game day. A QB is either providing value on the field, or riding the bench.
But I’m just a nobody on the internet, maybe there is some master plan that John Lynch and Kyle Shanahan are cooking up. What happens when it all goes according to plan?
Garoppolo has eight games left on his contract.
If he is the second coming of Tom Brady and wins the remaining games for SF, they end up with an 8-8 record, which is too bad to make the playoffs and too good to get premium draft position. And then SF has to decide whether to give him a new contract or let him walk and recoup a compensatory pick. The highest possible comp pick is the third round, so SF loses at least one round of value if they let him walk. And if they pay him, they lose all the surplus value that a young good QB on a rookie contract provides. If he is the second coming of Brady, that is probably a good deal. If he is like every any other Brady backup from the last decade or even like the vast majority of second round QBs since 2001, a franchise QB deal or even a Mike Glennon-esque deal ($15 million a year for three years) would be borderline disastrous.
And the kicker is that Garoppolo would have been available a few months from now. A modicum of patience would enable them to keep their second round pick. What is the benefit of spending four years of a cost-controlled player for eight games of a backup QB?
John Lynch may have the answer. But I doubt it.