Four years ago at the NFL Scouting Combine in Indianapolis, the 49ers agreed to the trade that sent quarterback Alex Smith to the Kansas City Chiefs.
Next week, the 49ers could have similar discussions. Only this time, they figure to be in the market to acquire a starting quarterback.
General manager John Lynch during an appearance this week on KNBR said he was excited about the talent he sees on the 49ers' offensive and defensive lines. But he made no secret of the organization’s intention to upgrade the quarterback position.
“Do we have some places – probably the ultimate position, quarterback – where we need to improve? Absolutely,” Lynch said. “And we’re committed to doing that.”
Seven weeks before the 49ers can add a quarterback in the draft, the team will have ample opportunities to find a solution in the veteran market. Free agency and the trade window open for all NFL teams on March 9.
Free-agent quarterback Matt Schaub, who had his best seasons under Kyle Shanahan with the Houston Texans, is a logical, low-price option for the 49ers to add as a backup. Schaub attempted just three passes last season as Matt Ryan’s backup with the Atlanta Falcons.
The 49ers could solve their long-term quarterback need with a blockbuster trade to acquire Washington’s Kirk Cousins or Jimmy Garoppolo from New England.
Shanahan was part of the Washington regime that drafted Cousins in the fourth round of the 2012 draft. Shanahan disclosed during Super Bowl week that he had a high draft grade on Garoppolo, whom he scouted in 2014 while with the Cleveland Browns.
Paraag Marathe, the 49ers’ chief strategy officer and executive vice president of football operations, intimated this week on “The 49ers Insider Podcast” he has provided the team’s decision-makers with information on previous trades.
“Here are all the other examples of when this position was traded for, and what people gave up to trade,” Marathe said. “That would establish the range for us if we are curious about a player at that position. And then we have a discussion from there.”
Cousins will be 29 next season, while Garoppolo, who has just two NFL starts, will be 26.
Here’s a look at the significant trades in the past decade that have involved quarterbacks acquired to take on starting roles:
Sam Bradford, 29, from Philadelphia to Minnesota
--2017 first-round pick (No. 14 or 15)
--2018 fourth-round pick (TBD)
Alex Smith, 29, from 49ers to Kansas City
--2013 second-round pick (No. 34)
--2014 second-round pick (No. 56)
Carson Palmer, 32, from Cincinnati to Oakland
--2012 first-round pick (No. 17)
--2013 second-round pick (No. 37)
Kevin Kolb, 27, from Philadelphia to Arizona
--2012 second round pick (No. 51)
--CB Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie
Donovan McNabb, 34, from Philadelphia to Washington
--2010 second-round pick (No. 37)
--2010 fourth-round pick (No. 104)
Jay Cutler, 26, and 2009 fifth-round pick (No. 140) from Denver to Chicago
--2009 first-round pick (No. 18)
--2009 third-round pick (No. 84)
--2010 first-round pick (No. 11)
--QB Kyle Orton
Matt Cassel, 27, and LB Mike Vrabel from New England to Kansas City
--2009 second-round pick (No. 34)
Matt Schaub, 26, and 2007 first-round pick (No. 10) from Atlanta to Houston
--2007 first-round pick (No. 8)
--2007 second-round pick (No. 39)
--2008 second-round pick (No. 48)
Source: Pro Football Reference