Forget Tom Brady: Might Aaron Rodgers replace 49ers' Jimmy Garoppolo?

Brian Witt
NBC Sports BayArea

With their first three picks of the 2020 NFL Draft, the Green Bay Packers added an undersized tight end most known for a defensive play, a plodding running back who already has plenty of miles on him and isn't a factor in the passing game, and what they hope is their quarterback of the future. So, it would be easy to understand if Aaron Rodgers had a mountain of frustration building up.

Might it build up enough to bring him back to the Bay Area?

Maybe Josiah Deguara, AJ Dillon and Jordan Love all turn out to be studs. The odds are against it, but hey, it could happen. The problem for the Packers -- and Rodgers -- is that none of those prospects are expected to be major contributors anytime soon. Love likely will sit on the sidelines for at least one season. Even if Dillon proves to be a standout rookie, that means taking touches away from the dynamic Aaron Jones. And in what is arguably the best pass-catcher draft of all time, Deguara isn't exactly a super exciting haul.

Lest we forget, the Packers weren't that far off last season. They made it to the NFC Championship game, where they were ultimately exposed by the 49ers. San Francisco had its way against Green Bay on the ground, rushing for 285 yards on 42 carries. Meanwhile, Packers receiver Davante Adams was their only legitimate threat on the outside, and while he had a productive game, they simply didn't have enough offensive firepower to keep up with the Niners.

Guess what? None of Green Bay's first three selections in the draft are going to help in either of those areas, at least not anytime soon. If the Packers fail to find some diamonds in the rough on Day 3 on Saturday, it would not be surprising whatsoever to see Green Bay take a step back next season. And if that occurs, one imagines Rodgers won't be pleased with the lack of support he received.

It is highly unlikely to occur, but there is a world in which the Packers and Rodgers part ways next offseason. He is entering the third year of the lucrative four-year contract extension he signed in 2018 and is due a $6.8 million roster bonus on March 19, 2021. If the situation between Rodgers and Green Bay proves untenable by that date, the Packers could get out of his contract at that point, albeit while incurring a huge $31.5 million hit in dead money. Yes, that's an enormous number, but Love's cap hit would only be $2.8 million, so in theory, they would be able to afford it.

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Of course, if the Packers wanted to avoid the dead-money route, they could always trade Rodgers. If he has reached the end of his line in Green Bay, why wouldn't they look to recoup some assets for him?

And in either case, if Rodgers needs to find a new home, could that be with the 49ers?

Let me be clear: I am not advocating for San Francisco to replace Jimmy Garoppolo with Rodgers. But if the 49ers considered doing that with a 42-year-old Tom Brady this offseason as reported, why wouldn't they kick the tires on Rodgers, who is both considerably younger and better than Brady at this stage?

We know Rodgers, just like Brady, grew up a 49ers fan. We know San Francisco made the wrong choice in selecting Alex Smith -- instead of Rodgers -- with the No. 1 overall pick of the 2005 NFL Draft. We know Rodgers, unlike Brady, can still lead a productive offense. We also know he's capable of winning a Super Bowl.

Garoppolo came about as close to doing that as one can without accomplishing the feat. It wasn't his fault that the 49ers suffered a fourth-quarter collapse against the Kansas City Chiefs in Super Bowl LIV, but he had a few missed opportunities that proved costly. San Francisco projects to be one of the powers in the NFC again in 2020, and there is every reason to believe that Jimmy G will continue to improve with another season of coach Kyle Shanahan's tutelage.

But ...

If the 49ers fail to get back to the Super Bowl next season -- and win -- Garoppolo's seat is likely to get plenty hot. San Francisco can move on from Jimmy G next offseason relatively unscathed with very little in terms of dead money. Of course, the 49ers would only do that if they were sure they could upgrade the position.

[RELATED: 49ers' package deal for Brady, Gronk would've been costly]

Is Rodgers an upgrade over Garoppolo another year from now? That's a difficult question to answer, but could be one Shanahan and John Lynch entertain. 

They apparently already did that with Brady, and Rodgers would make a lot more sense than him.

Forget Tom Brady: Might Aaron Rodgers replace 49ers' Jimmy Garoppolo? originally appeared on NBC Sports Bay Area

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