This off-season looks to be absolutely fascinating on the quarterback carousel. Tom Brady, Aaron Rodgers, Lamar Jackson, Derek Carr, and Jimmy Garoppolo look to be old faces in new places while Bryce Young, C.J. Stroud, Will Levis, and Anthony Richardson hope to be selected in the top ten. About half the league seems to need a new quarterback, and as always, the rat race rages on. But today I’m talking about how one old face would be a perfect fit in this new place.
Derek Carr Is the Perfect Fit for the San Francisco 49ers
As a Raiders fan (and writer), my feelings about Derek Carr are well documented. I speak highly of him as a man, and fairly of him as a player. I think he’s a good-not-great quarterback who is remarkable in the clutch, can make all the throws, and has a high football IQ, but struggles to improvise, has a nasty tendency to throw off his back foot, and freezes in the cold weather. On the right team, in the right scheme, with the right weapons, Carr can win a championship in the National Football League, but he is not going to drag a cellar-dweller to relevance, as we’ve seen with the Raiders.
The Raiders opted to move on from Carr this season, and while there’s still every chance he gets traded, my money is still on him being released. The New York Jets and Washington Commanders are teams that have been linked to Carr, but I don’t think he’d find much success in either place. Simply put, Carr needs to pick a team that will keep him in the sun as much as possible. I personally witnessed Carr on a rainy November afternoon at Meadowlands Stadium against a much uglier version of the New York Jets, and it wasn’t pretty.
Carr has stated what he’s looking for. He wants coaching stability, dynamic weapons, and most importantly, he wants to win a Super Bowl. Kyle Shanahan isn’t going anywhere. Christian McCaffrey, George Kittle, and Deebo Samuel make up one of the most dynamic trios in the entire league.
The 49ers QB Room
The 49ers have a very complicated quarterback situation. Jimmy Garoppolo, their proven veteran, is likely on the way out. Trey Lance, their 2021 first round pick, hasn’t been healthy enough to play much, and hasn’t impressed when he’s had chances. Brock Purdy, the 2022 draft’s Mr. Irrelevant, has played well enough to get San Francisco to this point in the playoffs, but it remains to be seen if he is the next Tom Brady or just another scheme guy ala Nick Mullens.
Should the 49ers look to free agency for their next quarterback, there will be options. Tom Brady, who grew up a fan of the team, is an interesting option who notoriously gives hometown discounts, but you do wonder if John Lynch and Kyle Shanahan are willing to forego both of their young quarterbacks for a legendary rental. The likes of Lamar Jackson could be had with a trade, but he’ll likely need to reset the quarterback market, and it will cost multiple first round picks just to get him.
Enter Derek Carr
At this point in his career, Derek Carr is a proven starter in the NFL. He’s fringe-top ten, and can do literally everything the 49ers need their quarterback to do, but he won’t demand the same amount of money that the other premier guys do. He loves to check down to running backs, and the 49ers have arguably the best receiving back ever. He’s always had a thing for tight ends, and Kittle is a perennial All-Pro. He does get shaky in a bad pocket, but the 49ers boast one of the league’s best offensive lines. I’ve always compared Carr to Matthew Stafford, and you saw what he did just across town for the Los Angeles Rams.
On top of playing all of his home games in sunny Santa Clara, the 49ers only travel to four cold cities, Washington, Pittsburgh, Philadelphia, and Cleveland next season, with no promise that they’ll be in the colder months like November or December.
The 49ers could sign Carr for cheaper than the big-name targets, it wouldn’t cost them any draft picks, he’s young enough to stick around but old enough that they don’t have to get rid of Purdy if they think he’s the future. Not to mention, it allows them to flip Trey Lance, who will be intriguing for many teams desperate for a quarterback.
I have been saying for a long time that I think it would be mutually beneficial for the Raiders and Derek Carr to go their separate ways, and if he went to the 49ers, I think he’d finally get to experience the career he always wanted. Not everybody is Patrick Mahomes, Josh Allen, or Joe Burrow. The AFC West is an arm’s race and Carr is not the general for this war. Frankly put, not every quarterback gets to be elite or transform a franchise, but maybe, just maybe, Carr could be the missing piece for a team that has the rest of the puzzle in place.
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