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49ers Playing With Fire if They Trade For Gardner Minshew

Brian Giuffra
Gardner Minshew.
Gardner Minshew. / James Gilbert/Getty Images
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Gardner Minshew's luscious locks and memorable mustache are reportedly on the trade block. Guess there's just no room for two well-groomed quarterbacks in Jacksonville with Trevor Lawrence headed to town. So the Jaguars signed former 49ers backup C.J. Beathard today to presumably be Lawrence's anonymous backup, thus making Minshew expendable.

There will be no shortage of suitors for Minshew and the 49ers are apparently feeling the mania. According to ESPN's Jeremy Fowler, the 49ers have been on the hunt for another quarterback all offseason and, after missing out on Andy Dalton and Mitch Trubisky and Joe Flacco (imagine being turned down by that trio), there are rumors that the 49ers are interested in Minshew.

It's a good call too because Minshew has proven worthy of a shot as a starter on a good team with standout players around him. He put up impressive numbers without much talent in Jacksonville and won a handful of games. Anyone who can accomplish that during two rebuilding years with the Jags certainly warrants another look.

However, the 49ers better be ready for the repercussions of trading for Minshew and keeping Jimmy Garoppolo in town, because they will be present throughout the season. Even if Garoppolo wins a quarterback battle in training camp, fans will be calling for his head the first time he costs them a game. With a noted marketing dynamo behind Minshew, those screams will be even louder. And they won't go away throughout the season. It will be the 49ers' primary storyline.

It's probably one of the reasons the Jags want to trade Minshew. Fans down there love him. Imagine if Lawrence struggled or got hurt and Minshew replaced him and starred. The Jags can't have anyone stealing Lawrence's shine. Minshew could, in theory, do that given his history in Jacksonville. Beathard is a much safer, ignorable backup.

Which brings us back to Garoppolo. 49ers fans aren't sold on him. The organization, likewise, appears ready to move on. They've been linked in the Deshaun Watson trade rumors and the three aforementioned quarterbacks they spoke with in free agency. So there's not much confidence there to begin with. Bringing in Minshew will further undermine Garoppolo's position. When you look at the stats, there's even more evidence Minshew would be the better option.

On average, Minshew throws more touchdowns (1.6 to 1.1), throws for more yards (240.4 vs 167.5) and commits the same number of turnovers (0.5 to 0.5) as Garoppolo per game. Garoppolo edges him in completion percentage (67.5 to 62.9) and QB rating (98.9 to 93.1), but Minshew has a big advantage in his ability to scramble (21.9 rushing yards per game v 2.9). Producing yards and touchdowns is the name of the game in the modern NFL. Minshew has proven far more successful than Garoppolo in that department.

If the 49ers trade for Minshew, the battle between him and Garoppolo for the starting quarterback job will be one of the most intriguing in the NFL this preseason. The stakes also couldn't be higher with the 49ers fielding a roster capable of competing for a Super Bowl around the quarterback position. But sometimes a controversy at the most important position in football can have a negative impact on the rest of the team. What this ultimately comes down to is, are the 49ers okay with that being their primary storyline this season?

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