49ers an ‘Intriguing’ QB Option for Disgruntled Ex-No. 2 Pick

We’ll have to see what becomes of 49ers quarterback Sam Darnold as he re-enters free agency, but assuming he gets a decent deal and a shot at a new job, the 49ers will have established themselves as a sort of home for wayward quarterbacks, a place to rebuild value for former high draft picks who flamed out in their first few seasons. And perhaps next on the list of quarterbacks for the 49ers to rehab is another Jets swing-and-miss, Zach Wilson.

Zach Wilson, a potential 49ers quarterback, is seeking a trade.

That’s the notion from ESPN insider Jeremy Fowler, who sees Wilson as a backup option for two of the better offensive coaches in the NFL, Sean McVay of the Rams and Kyle Shanahan.

Wilson is not happy with the Jets and wants out. The feeling is mutual, as owner Woody Johnson noted last month when he said, “We need a backup quarterback. We didn’t have one last year.”


Wrote Fowler on Sunday: “The Rams and 49ers are among intriguing options for quarterback Zach Wilson, who has permission to seek a trade from the Jets. Wilson is looking for a skilled offensive head coach and a place to revive his career. Sean McVay and Kyle Shanahan both need backup QB help at the moment.”

Zach Wilson Struggled in New York

The trade market on Wilson should be worth watching after he has logged three mostly miserable and injury-plagued seasons in New York, where the Jets had made him the No. 2 overall pick out of BYU in 2021. It was expected that Wilson would supplant Darnold, who had been the No. 3 pick in the draft in 2018.

Wilson was destined for a backup role last season after the Jets traded for future Hall of Fame quarterback Aaron Rodgers in the offseason, but was thrust back into the starting job when Rodgers was injured with a torn Achilles tendon four plays into the opener.

Wilson came in and helped the team to a win over the Bills in relief of Rodgers, and had some nice moments during last season, including a two-touchdown, 301-yard performance in a 30-6 win over the Texans, in what might be the best game of his career.

But mostly, Wilson struggled last year, as he had done in the previous two seasons. The Jets were 4-7 in Wilson’s starts (5-7 if you count the Buffalo game) but for his career, the team is 12-21 when he starts, and he has logged a quarterback rating of just 73.2

Trade speculation on Wilson has been lingering since late in the season, especially after coach Robert Saleh—a former Jets defensive coordinator—said in Week 18 that Wilson would have a long NFL career. When asked if that would be with the Jets, Saleh said, “We’ll see.”

49ers Quarterback Depth Requires Talent, Low Price

Wilson would tick a few boxes for the 49ers as they reconfigure their quarterback room this winter. Obviously, Brock Purdy is not going anywhere, but with Darnold all but certainly out the door, the team would like some talent behind him. Wilson has talent — the Jets have been terrible in his time there.

At the same time, the Jets have painted themselves into a corner on Wilson and probably can’t expect to get much in return for him at this point. It’s no secret that the team wants to trade him, so the 49ers likely would have to give up only a late-round draft pick or a late pick swap.

And financially, the impact of a Wilson trade might not be great, either. He is slated to have a cap hit of $11 million next season, with $5.5 million guaranteed, and there’s no way the 49ers would want that on their books. But the Jets would have to pick up the bulk of the deal, giving the 49ers a potential bargain at the position.

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