With the NFL combine set to begin March 1, the rumor mill on prospects will begin churning at full speed through the draft in late April. This year the quarterback class is a big question mark, which matters for the 49ers despite the acquisition of Trey Lance in the 2022 draft. While it won’t be as dramatic as all the QB rumors last year that involved the 49ers directly, the run of 2022 draft scuttlebutt will still be worth keeping an eye on.
This year’s QB class is certainly worse than last year’s. Depending on the analyst there may not be a QB listed in the top 20 or 25 prospects in the 2022 class. Most mock drafts have three or four QBs going in the first round, but none in the top five and typically only one in the top 10. As the rumor mill at he combine churns the 49ers will be on the outside looking in and perhaps trying to push down the already sketchy perception of this year’s group of signal callers.
With Jimmy Garoppolo on the trading block and perhaps the best available veteran QB, a lack of faith from teams in this year’s class would conceivably benefit the 49ers in their quest to secure a first or second-round pick for him. A team like Washington that might’ve taken a better QB at 11 might now look to another position and feel comfortable adding Garoppolo by way of a Round 2 pick this year and something else next year. Perhaps Pittsburgh or Carolina like Garoppolo for a couple years more than they like Kenny Pickett or Desmond Ridder. That may push them into giving up a Round 2 or future Round 1 pick.
Of course, the opposite could happen as well. The combine may afford some of the QBs a chance to push themselves up draft boards and adversely affect the 49ers by diminishing Garoppolo’s value. Maybe a couple of players like Malik Willis, Carson Strong or Matt Corral have a big combine and fly up boards, leaving a limited number of landing spots for the 49ers’ veteran.
This is all hypothetical, of course. Some teams may already know what they’ll give up for Garoppolo regardless of what the draft class looks like. Other teams may want to see more from this year’s crop of prospects. Either way, the QB rumors won’t impact so much who the 49ers are picking, but they could have a pretty significant effect on how their biggest offseason domino falls.