In a head scratching move on April 29, 2011, the Jacksonville Jaguars traded up six spots to select what many experts proclaimed to be a second-round prospect in QB Blaine Gabbert out of Missouri. In a completely mind-boggling move a little more than four months later the Jaguars cut presumed-starter David Garrard in an obvious salary cap move, after all NFL camps have concluded and with less than two days to the NFL season opener in Green Bay.
This move is wrong on various levels.
1. Garrard was in attendance at the Jags' annual season opener lunch less than four hours before receiving the news.
2. Garrard has led the Jags to a 39-37 record in his career, and that’s with a division boasting Peyton Manning and Matt Schaub.
3. The NFL season starts in two days, which means this hardly seems a well thought-out decision and does not say much about the organization and its respect for a veteran player that has started 76 games since 2002, won the teams only playoff game in the last decade and has a 39-37 win-loss record. But hey, the Jags need to sell tickets, right? And what better way to do that then with Luke McCown at the helm!
But enough Jag bashing for today—we have all season for that. What we’re here to talk about is why the San Francisco 49ers would be absolute fools not to claim Garrard off waivers.
Here’s my case.
The 49ers have two rookie quarterbacks behind Alex Smith, and if that doesn’t make you warm and fuzzy, let’s throw in the fact that Smith has only completed one full season in his first seven and, well, you get the picture.
General manager Trent Baalke and head coach Jim Harbaugh have already made several plays to put a veteran on the roster, but have either struck out—case in point, Matt Hasslebeck—or been unimpressed (Daunte Culpepper/Josh McCown—yes, he’s the brother of Luke McCown, who’s taking Gabbert's starting job).
It would make sense for the 49ers to add a proven vet to the mix, just in case!
While Garrad has not lit up the stat board in his nine-year career, he has been consistent, with 61 percent completion, 89 touch downs, 54 interceptions, 85.8 percent passer rating, 1,746 rushing yards and 17 rushing TDs over his career.
Considering he bested his entire career averages last year, posting a QB rating of 90.8, you have the best quarterback in the NFC West since Matt Hasselbeck posted similar numbers for one year back in 2005—not to mention the best QB San Francisco has seen since Jeff Garcia left in 2003.
With Garrard’s 76 career starts he would bring much-needed veteran experience to the 49ers QB rotation. Don’t confuse this with wear and tear, as compared to Hasselbeck (36) and McNabb (35 this year), Garrard (33) is still a spring chicken.
He has not been beat up on season upon season and has only been the steady starter in Jacksonville since midway through the 2005 season. While he’s no Brett Favre in the career starts category, he has 26 more career starts than current starter Alex Smith.
If the three reasons listed above aren’t good enough, consider this: The 49ers are seventh in line in the waiver order and are the only team that high that is still not 100 percent settled at quarterback, and sometimes the best way to beat an opponent is to take away its weapons.
With Seattle’s limited weapons at QB—Tarvaris Jackson, Charlie Whitehurst, anyone, anyone? Right!—the 49ers should definitely consider plucking Mr. Garrard if only for that reason alone!
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