The San Francisco 49ers Should NOT Pursue Baker Mayfield Following Jimmy G’s Season-Ending Injury

Seattle Seahawks target Baker Mayfield #6 of the Cleveland Browns (Photo by Stacy Revere/Getty Images)
Seattle Seahawks target Baker Mayfield #6 of the Cleveland Browns (Photo by Stacy Revere/Getty Images) /

The Carolina Panthers released Baker Mayfield Monday, a day after the San Francisco 49ers lost Jimmy Garoppolo to a broken foot. The pairing may make sense on paper, but the Niners would be wise to avoid the temptation of signing Mayfield.

The San Francisco 49ers cannot catch a break. The team lost their week one starter, Trey Lance, to a season-ending injury versus the Seattle Seahawks in the team’s second game of 2022. General manager John Lynch wisely chose to hang on to Jimmy Garoppolo, rather than cut him, giving the team a high-quality insurance piece.

With Jimmy G at the helm, the Niners again looked like a legitimate Super Bowl contender. Going 7-3 (including the week two victory against the Seahawks) in his ten appearances as QB1 this season, many began wondering if Jimmy G had played his way back into the full-time gig going forward.

Unfortunately, the good times came to a screeching halt this past weekend against the Miami Dolphins. Early in the game, Jimmy Garoppolo suffered a broken foot, putting him on the shelf for the remainder of the season, leaving their seventh-round rookie Brock Purdy to take the mantle.

Purdy was a four-year player at Iowa State, accumulating impressive counting numbers during his time with the Cyclones. He averaged over 3000 yards per season, with 81 career touchdown passes and a strong 67.7% completion rate to show for it. Still, Purdy earned a backup quarterback grade heading into the 2022 NFL Draft, with the Niners making him Mr. Irrelevant with the final pick of the event (No. 262 overall).

Purdy came in to relieve the injured Garoppolo and performed admirably against a tough Miami Dolphins unit. Purdy played within himself and managed the game like a seasoned vet, taking what the defense gave him and utilizing Christian McCaffrey out of the backfield frequently. He tossed two touchdown passes and did not look overwhelmed behind center.

So what do Kyle Shanahan and Co. do now? The trade deadline has already come and gone, which keeps the team from looking for options on other rosters. The free agency pool is uninspiring because any quarterback capable of moving the needle for the 49ers has surely already been scooped up. Recently, a new name landed on the short list of available quarterbacks, but San Francisco would be wise to avoid the temptation.

Baker Mayfield, recently released by the Carolina Panthers, is expected to clear waivers and be available for any team to sign. In a vacuum, adding a former No. 1 overall pick to the fold, especially at quarterback, would be a brilliant addition. The problem is, that quarterback is not suited to play the manager role in an offense.

Now, I can hear Browns fans yelling and pointing to the 2020 season where, to his credit, Mayfield played game manager perfectly, leading Cleveland to their first playoff appearance and victory in over a decade. I give you that one. However, Mayfield’s time in Carolina shows why his days as a starter in the league should be over.

Sure, the scenario is as ideal as it gets in the NFL for a quarterback on the San Francisco 49ers. The team is stocked with weapons on the offensive end and boasts one of the best defenses in the NFL. Theoretically, Baker Mayfield could step in and guide the ship. But, because this isn’t a video game where you can plug in anyone anywhere, it is a more complicated situation than that.

Personally, I enjoy Baker Mayfield’s personality. The hunger he has to win is special, and he strikes me as a guy that teammates can rally around. That being said, dropping Mayfield into a brand-new situation in the middle of the season could spell disaster.

First, Mayfield would enter the position with far too many expectations from the outside world. That type of pressure is loud in Cleveland and Carolina, but it is a complete step up in the Bay Area. The 49ers are one of the most prestigious franchises in all of sports, and with that, comes a lot to live up to.

Next, Mayfield would enter his third different offensive scheme in 12 months. I don’t care how smart of a player you are, that can throw off the rhythm of even the most talented of guys. Kyle Shanahan could prop him up, but why do that when Brock Purdy has shown the ability to win a game against a top team already? Why take that risk?

Simply put, they shouldn’t. For all of Mayfield’s shortcomings on the field and a perceived lack of willingness to play a game manager role rather than a starring role, those are not the reasons for the Niners to avoid Baker Mayfield. Expectations and minimal time to adjust to the new system are the leading reasons why.

Rather than investing even more in the position, why not roll with your rookie that can create with his arm and legs? Would adding a brand new personality to the locker room be the smartest move? My answer is no.

Not to mention, Baker Mayfield and Nick Bosa have a noted history of disdain for one another. Both are much older and more mature than their college days, so perhaps this is a moot point, but it is one worth bringing up. All in all, I am not sure Baker Mayfield’s personality would vibe with everyone in the San Francisco locker room.

If Mayfield is truly willing to be a backup, then it makes sense to bring him in solely as insurance behind Brock Purdy. Barring another injury to Purdy, there is no scenario where Baker Mayfield should be the starting quarterback for the San Francisco 49ers. Sometimes the best fit on paper doesn’t make sense in actuality.