The Carolina Panthers releasing Baker Mayfield could save the San Francisco 49ers’ season.
While San Francisco improved to 8-4 on the year by beating the Miami Dolphins on Sunday, the 49ers have lost Jimmy Garoppolo for the season. He replaced former No. 3 overall pick Trey Lance, who too suffered a broken leg earlier in the year. San Francisco trotted out there Mr. Irrelevant in former Iowa State star Brock Purdy in relief of Garoppolo. They also signed Josh Johnson to the 53.
With Mayfield hitting waivers, let’s discuss if it is worth it for the 49ers to put in a claim for him.
Pros of 49ers signing Baker Mayfield to save their season
The upside to signing Mayfield is really this: What do you have to lose? If the 49ers go 2-3 in their final five games, they will finish at 10-7 and should make the NFC playoffs as a Wild Card team at the very least.
Although they are one game ahead of the Seattle Seahawks in the NFC West standings, they can get the head-to-head tiebreaker with a win on Thursday night in two weeks.
Mayfield may not be as talented as Garoppolo, or Lance for that matter, but he is better than former 49ers backups like C.J. Beathard and Nick Mullens, both of whom won games filling in for an injured Garoppolo in years past. Most importantly, Kyle Shanahan’s offensive system is incredibly ground-centric and tends to elevate the play of the quarterback running his offense.
San Francisco is not winning the Super Bowl, but can make the playoffs and reach the divisional round.
Cons of 49ers signing Baker Mayfield to save their season
There are a few downsides here. The first is, when was the last time Mayfield was any good? It has been a while for sure. Although some people may still believe in Lance, good luck with that… While there is some intrigue on seeing if Purdy can be the guy, he was Mr. Irrelevant for a reason. Johnson is just a guy at this point. Ultimately, this is all about how hard it is to pick up the scheme.
Most quarterbacks need at least a year to thrive in the Shanahan system. Just ask Matt Ryan and Matt Schaub about that. Mayfield is only maybe getting a trial run with the 49ers anyway. Then again, he has had so many offensive coordinators since leaving Oklahoma, so this is not untrodden territory for him. Plus, Mayfield can be a good soldier with his career hanging in the balance now.
Signing Mayfield is not about winning right away, but helping keep the 49ers’ playoff dreams alive.
What the 49ers should do regarding Baker Mayfield being released by Carolina
The 49ers have to ask themselves one question first: Do they think they can go 2-3 in their final five games with the combination of Purdy and Johnson? If the answer is yes, then they should not put in a claim for Mayfield. If the answer is no, then, by all means, bring the Heisman Trophy winner to the Bay Area stat. It is not going to cost an arm and a leg to sign him as a free agent anyway.
What will be interesting is if the 49ers do put in a claim for him. That would signify their true desperation at this point. If they do not put in a claim for him, then the 49ers are letting it go to chance that someone else will sign him. Frankly, the 49ers should let Mayfield clear waivers to not give off the scent of what they plan to do. At the very least, signing him means that they are trying…
Since he will not cost a fortune, the 49ers should look to sign Mayfield only after clearing waivers.