In five years, who will be the best NFL QBs?


In five years, who will be the best NFL QBs?

Of all the young quarterbacks in football, who will be thebest five years from now?Its an important question. Which young QB would you want tobuild your team around? By young, Im talking incoming rookies and soon-to-besecond year players. Im talking Robert Griffin and Andrew Luck and Cam Newton,that bunch.Whos your favorite for the future, and why?Heres my top-five list.1. Cam Newton (6-5, 248 lbs., 22 years old) He is, and willcontinue to be, better than Andrew Luck. He has a stronger arm, for starters.He flicks bullets around the field like Aaron Rodgers. Hes a betterscramblerrunneroverall athlete than Luck. Hes so big and quick, hes thebest goal-line running back in the NFL. Theres never been a quarterback like Newton. Hes the LeBronJames or the Kevin Durant of the NFL -- a unique phenomenon in the history ofthe sport who will win multiple MVPs.
2. Andrew Luck (6-4, 234 lbs., 22) A rich mans Alex Smith,and heres what I mean. Smith does everything at about a B level. The way heruns, throws, reads the field, all of that -- hes B. Hes not A at anything(unless you count not turning the ball over a physical attribute), and hes notC at anything, either. Luck is the same as Smith, except hes A at everything,not B. But he doesnt have any A attributes like Cam Newton. Luck has an Aarm, not A. Hes an A athlete, not A. Hes even a bit methodical when heplays, like Smith. Dont get me wrong -- I think hell be a perennial ProBowler. But he may never be an MVP. 3. Robert Griffin III (6-2, 223 lbs., 22) He ran a 4.4140-yard dash at the Combine, the fastest time by a quarterback since MichaelVick in 2000. You could make the case that one day Griffin will be a bigger, smarter Vick, whichwould probably make him a Hall of Famer. Heres why hes third on my list. Eventhough hes bigger than Vick, hes not big. Hes Steve Youngs size. So, hesmuch smaller than the linebackers, unlike Newtonand Luck. When he tries to take advantage of his top-notch speed and scramble,hes going to get hit and hes going to get hurt. Thats what happened to Young-- he got concussed so many times he had to retire. Vick has had concussions,too. Pretty soon, the small, fast quarterbacks get hit so violently they haveto stop running, stay in the pocket, and then theyre not so special. Griffin could set theleague on fire in his rookie season -- hes that good -- but Id be nervousbuilding my team around such an injury-risk long-term.

4. Jake Locker (6-2, 234 lbs., 23) Locker is a lot like Griffin -- fast,scrambles, takes huge hits. While Griffinthrows one of the best, most accurate deep balls, Locker is one of the best atthrowing on-the-run. He can throw hard and accurately no matter how fast hesrunning. Ive never seen anything like it. He was very good the few times heplayed his rookie season for the Titans -- he even came one play away frombeating the Saints. If he can avoid injuries hell be a very good player in theNFL.5. Colin Kaepernick (6-4, 230 lbs., 24) Hes done nothingin the NFL to warrant this ranking. He was one of the worst QBs in thepreseason, recording a rating below 30. Andy Dalton, another rookie, led theBengals to the playoffs. Shouldnt he be No. 5? No. I bet Kaepernick turns outbetter than Dalton.Kaepernick is an extraordinary athlete. He ran a 4.53 40-yard dash at thecombine. He could be the Niners big, deep-threat wide receiver right now. ButHarbaugh wouldnt dream of that -- hes grooming Kaepernick to be hisquarterback of the future. Kaepernick can throw a football as hard as anyone,he just needs to improve his footwork and his accuracy, i.e. quarterbackskills. Hes way behind Daltonand all these other quarterbacks in that department. But hes got Harbaughteaching him -- a huge advantage.

Grant Cohn is a contributing writer for

Lynch: TE McDonald to return to 49ers after being on trade block

Lynch: TE McDonald to return to 49ers after being on trade block

SANTA CLARA – The 49ers explored trade options for veteran tight end Vance McDonald during the three-day draft, but he is scheduled be back with the team when the club reports Monday for the fourth week of the offseason program.

“I think that’s the reality of new regimes coming, new schemes,” 49ers general manager John Lynch said Saturday at the conclusion the seven-round draft. “That’s not to say that he can’t fit into our scheme. Frankly, we received some interest from some other people, then we did explore some options throughout the league with Vance. Nothing ended up happening, so Vance will come back and have an opportunity to compete.”

Coach Kyle Shanahan said he called McDonald on Friday night to keep him updated on the team’s though process in pursuing trade options. McDonald was at his brother’s wedding, Shanahan said, so he left him a long voice message. McDonald responded Saturday morning with a text. Shanahan said the two men will speak on Monday in Santa Clara.

“We did take over a 2-14 team,” Shanahan said. “We don’t feel all the answers are here right now. We have a lot of work to do. We need to improve in any way possible. And we’re going to do that. We’re going to do that from an organizational standpoint. How can we improve the building? How can we improve the coaching staff? How can we improve the personnel department? How can we improve the players?

“Just from Vance’s text back, I think people understand that. I think it does make sense. I don’t think that’s something personal.”

Former 49ers general manager Trent Baalke signed off on a five-year contract extension for McDonald in December that consisted of a $7 million signing bonus. McDonald appeared in 11 games last season, catching 24 passes for 391 yards and four touchdowns. The 49ers acquired McDonald as a second-round draft pick 2013. In 48 career games, McDonald has 64 receptions for 866 yards and seven touchdowns.

The 49ers signed veteran tight end Logan Paulsen in the offseason. On Saturday, the 49ers selected Iowa tight end George Kittle in the fifth round of the draft. Kittle joins fellow tight ends McDonald, Garrett Celek, Paulsen, Blake Bell and Je’Ron Hamm on the 49ers’ 90-man roster.



Lynch: 49ers expected to pick up Ward's fifth-year option

Lynch: 49ers expected to pick up Ward's fifth-year option

The 49ers plan to pick up the fifth-year option on defensive back Jimmie Ward for the 2018 season, general manager John Lynch said Saturday.

The league-wide deadline for picking up the option is Wednesday. After the 49ers did not draft a free safety within the first two days of the draft, it became apparent Ward fits into the team’s plan for at least the next two seasons. Coach Kyle Shanahan said he was excited after watching Ward during the team's minicamp this week.

The fifth-year option, a product of the 2011 collective bargaining agreement, enables teams to control the rights of first-round draft picks for one season beyond the mandatory four-year contract. The salary for safeties drafted outside the top 10 is $5.957 million.

The salary is guaranteed for injury only. The team can void the deal until the first day of the 2018 league year.

Ward, whom the 49ers selected with the 30th overall pick of the 2014 draft, was the team’s top nickel back in his first two seasons, appearing in 24 games. Last year, Ward moved to cornerback, where he started 11 games before landing on injured reserve with a shoulder injury.

With the 49ers’ conversion to a defense based on the Seattle Seahawks’ scheme, Ward is being moved to free safety. He is expected to fill a role based on what Earl Thomas plays with the Seahawks.

Here are the 49ers’ decisions since the inception of the fifth-year option rule:

--The 49ers picked up the fifth-year option on Aldon Smith before restructuring the contract. The 49ers eventually released Smith before the start of his fifth season due to multiple off-field incidents.

--Wide receiver A.J. Jenkins was traded to the Kansas City Chiefs before his second NFL season.

--The 49ers picked up the fifth-year option on safety Eric Reid for this season. He is scheduled to earn $5.676 this season.