NFL Rumors: 49ers Could Target Matthew Stafford During 2021 Offseason, ‘Bleacher Report’ Suggests

Matthew Stafford of the Detroit Lions prepares to pass the ball against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
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With a 6-9 record in the 2020 season, the San Francisco 49ers have dealt with quarterback problems all year. Aside from Jimmy Garoppolo’s recent injury history, there have also been concerns that the team might need better alternatives than their erstwhile backups at the position, Nick Mullens and C.J. Beathard. With all that in mind, a recent article recommended three possible quarterbacks the San Francisco 49ers could target in the 2021 offseason, including erstwhile Detroit Lions star Matthew Stafford.

As explained on Wednesday by Bleacher Report, Stafford won’t be eligible for free agency until his contract expires after the 2022 campaign. While there may be a way for the Lions to move him during the offseason, that would result in a $24 million salary-cap hit. That, however, could potentially allow Detroit to rebuild with a new signal-caller, more money to address their weaknesses, and a long-term replacement for recently fired head coach Matt Patricia.

Should the Lions hit the reset button by shopping Stafford around, the outlet suggested that the 49ers should “take a serious look” at the veteran, who has seen action in just three postseason games since starting his NFL career in 2009. Given that San Francisco went all the way to Super Bowl LIV last season, Bleacher Report predicted that Stafford would “immediately” have a good chance to make the playoffs if he joins the 49ers, as opposed to staying with the Lions.

“The 49ers would be able to surround Stafford with an abundance of offensive weapons that he rarely has had in Detroit, and the team’s dominant rushing attack would take some pressure off the former No. 1 overall pick.”

Matthew Stafford of the Detroit Lions passes the ball during a 2020 game against the Tennessee Titans.
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As further pointed out, Stafford’s health should ideally be the 49ers’ main concern if they decide to trade for him. As shown on his Pro Football Reference page, he sat out eight games last season due to injuries, after starting 16 games for eight consecutive campaigns. This year, he made 15 straight starts before getting injured during Detroit’s Week 16 loss to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

Despite enjoying a statistically productive career, Stafford has made only one Pro Bowl appearance in 12 NFL seasons. According to Pro Football Reference, he has thrown for 23 touchdowns and nine interceptions for 3,791 yards in the 2020 campaign — good for a QB rating of 95.2. He has also completed 64.2 percent of his passes for the Lions, who have a 5-10 win-loss record heading into Week 17 action on Sunday.

Aside from Stafford, Bleacher Report suggested that the 49ers could also make a move for New York Jets starter Sam Darnold if they want a younger, cheaper trade target, or use a middle-round pick in the 2021 draft on a quarterback prospect such as Notre Dame’s Ian Book.