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Kyle Shanahan: 'Always Been a Fan' of Baker Mayfield, 'Feel Real Good' with 49ers QBs

Scott Polacek@@ScottPolacekFeatured Columnist IVDecember 6, 2022

BALTIMORE, MD - NOVEMBER 20: Baker Mayfield #6 of the Carolina Panthers attempts a pass against the Baltimore Ravens during the first half at M&T Bank Stadium on November 20, 2022 in Baltimore, Maryland. (Photo by Scott Taetsch/Getty Images)
Scott Taetsch/Getty Images

With Jimmy Garoppolo and Trey Lance both out for the season with injuries, the San Francisco 49ers seem like a natural landing spot for Baker Mayfield.

The Carolina Panthers announced they released Mayfield on Monday, and 49ers head coach Kyle Shanahan was asked about the possibility of adding him.

"I've always been a fan of his but feel real good with all our players," Shanahan said, per Matt Barrows of The Athletic.

Lance suffered a fractured ankle in Week 2, and Garoppolo suffered a broken foot in Sunday's victory over the Miami Dolphins. That forced the NFC West leaders to turn to rookie Brock Purdy.

To Purdy's credit, he played fairly well and went 25-of-37 for 210 yards, two touchdowns and one interception while helping the team improve to 8-4 on the campaign.

The seventh-round draft pick out of Iowa State likely didn't expect to see significant time as a rookie, but he is now the starting signal-caller for a team with realistic Super Bowl hopes.

San Francisco did add some depth by signing Josh Johnson off the Denver Broncos practice squad, per ESPN's Adam Schefter, but he has been a journeyman throughout his career and has appeared in games for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Cleveland Browns, Cincinnati Bengals, Washington, New York Jets and Baltimore Ravens.

The 49ers are in an unusual position where they could win the Super Bowl with even average quarterback play.

Their defense is one of the best in the league, and they are loaded with offensive playmakers such as Christian McCaffrey, Deebo Samuel, George Kittle and Brandon Aiyuk. All the quarterback has to do is avoid major mistakes and get the ball into the playmakers' hands, which is what Garoppolo was doing prior to the setback.

Perhaps Mayfield is someone who could do just that more effectively than Purdy.

He was the No. 1 overall pick of the 2018 NFL draft and played well at times for the Cleveland Browns, including when he posted 26 touchdown passes to eight interceptions in 2020. However, he threw 13 interceptions last year and had a 74.4 passer rating in seven appearances with the Panthers this year.

Consistency has long been an issue for Mayfield, and Jeff Howe of The Athletic reported he asked to be released when the Panthers told him he would be third on the depth chart.

He may get a chance to redeem himself on the 49ers, but Shanahan seemed fine with the current options as well.