There’s Very Obvious Landing Spot For Baker Mayfield After Release

The 49ers have to put in a waiver claim, right?

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December 5, 2022

The Carolina Panthers have opted to grant the release of former No. 1 overall pick Baker Mayfield, whom they acquired via trade this offseason. And it feels like there is a very realistic landing spot for the quarterback in the San Francisco 49ers.

The NFC West-leading 49ers lost Jimmy Garoppolo to a season-ending foot injury Sunday. Kyle Shanahan and company made out just fine as rookie seventh-rounder Brock Purdy took over and completed 25 of his 37 passes for 210 yards and two touchdowns in a 33-17 win over the Miami Dolphins. San Francisco also reportedly signed Josh Johnson off the Denver Broncos’ practice squad after the contest, though that was before the reports of Mayfield’s release.

Mayfield, 27, reportedly asked to be released by the team with the Panthers expected to proceed with Sam Darnold and P.J. Walker. Mayfield did not look good in seven games in Carolina. He completed just 57.8% of his passes with six touchdowns and six interceptions in six starts. He went 1-5 as the starter for Carolina, which previously had some playmakers at the skill positions with Christian McCaffrey, D.J. Moore and Robbie Anderson. The Panthers later traded McCaffrey to the 49ers and Anderson to the Arizona Cardinals.

The reality, though, is despite Mayfield’s recent downward turn the runner-up for 2018 Rookie of the Year still could be a better option than either Purdy or Johnson. Competing in a Shanahan offense with playmakers surrounding him — McCaffrey, Deebo Samuel, Brandon Aiyuk, George Kittle, etc. — should make life much easier for Mayfield. He would be needed more as a game manager, benefitting from the top-scoring defense in the league, as opposed to a quarterback who has to lead his team to wins.

It’s also important to note that adding Mayfield does not mean the 49ers would be handcuffed to him as they pursue an NFC title. Perhaps Purdy really has gained the confidence of Shanahan and others, then Mayfield could serve as a better backup than Johnson, who’s played for 14 teams in 13 seasons. And Mayfield should welcome a chance to play for San Francisco given that a playoff-caliber team might help him save his career. It all just seems to make too much sense.

Regardless of who is behind center in Week 14, the 49ers will take on the Tampa Bay Buccaneers as they try to maintain their one-game lead over the Seattle Seahawks in the division.

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