The San Francisco 49ers are rumored to be taking a hard look at Johnny Manziel for next season as the abrupt end of the Colin Kaepernick era has created a quarterback vacuum the team is hoping to address immediately.
Kaepernick once appeared to be the franchise quarterback for the San Francisco 49ers, seizing the job from former No. 1 pick Alex Smith (and eventually running Smith out of town) and then promptly leading the 49ers to the NFC Championship Game and the Super Bowl in his first two years as full-time starter.
But Kaepernick then had a sharp drop-off, falling out of favor with the team and struggling with accuracy on the field. It came to a head this season when he was replaced by backup Blaine Gabbert, then underwent season-ending surgery on his left shoulder.
— Niners Nation (@NinersNation) November 30, 2015
It now seems almost certain that Kaepernick will be traded or cut by the San Francisco 49ers in the offseason, and new rumors indicate that the team could look to Johnny Manziel instead.
NFL insider Adam Schefter reported that the 49ers are among a handful of teams interested in landing Manziel, who is presumably on his way out of Cleveland. Manziel has been on a short leash after his struggles with partying last season and his subsequent rehab visit, and he lost the starting job after video surfaced showing him partying during the team’s bye week.
.@AdamSchefter says Rams, ‘Boys, 49ers have looked hard at Manziel at some point. And Chip Kelly. “Somebody’s gonna roll the dice on him.”
— Andrew Perloff (@andrewperloff) December 3, 2015
Aside from his off-the-field issues, Johnny Manziel showed steady improvement this year, and, at times, looked like he could be a viable starting quarterback. But he would still be a project to any team that picked him up, and there could be other options available for those looking for a starter.
This offseason could see a huge influx of talented but flawed quarterbacks hitting the free agent market. Aside from Kaepernick, it also appears that Robert Griffin III will be on his way out of Washington and Peyton Manning could be a free agent as well. There are reports that Manning could be ready to play at least one more year, but the Denver Broncos could be ready to give Brock Osweiler his chance to be a starter.
While the rest of the season will likely determine what happens with Manning, some NFL insiders say Manning could be the most intriguing choice of the bunch.
“That is quite a multiple-choice question,” Phil Savage, the former general manager of the Cleveland Browns, told the Washington Post. “On paper, you would say Peyton. But in reality, you would be talking about short term with him, one year or less.”
There could also be some competition for Johnny Manziel. Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones was reportedly very high on the Heisman Trophy winner before the 2014 NFL Draft, but was talked out of drafting him.
— Blogging The Boys (@BloggingTheBoys) December 3, 2015
There are many who think that Jones is still very high on Manziel, and ESPN‘s Todd Archer noted that Jerry Jones could see an opportunity to bring in Manziel (though Archer ultimately argued that Manziel was not worth the trouble he would create).
“The Cowboys showed this year that they have a backup quarterback need after going 0-7 with Brandon Weeden and Matt Cassel when Romo was out with a broken collarbone. It looks like the perfect opportunity for Jones to have a buy-low moment with Manziel, especially if the Browns release him. He would have a young quarterback in the system to replace Romo one day and he wouldn’t have to pay a heavy price to get him.”
It’s still not clear what direction the San Francisco 49ers plan to go. While rumors have connected them to Johnny Manziel, there are some who think that Gabbert could end up becoming a starting-caliber player. It seems that time — or at least the remainder of the season — will tell.
[AP Photo/Gene J. Puskar]