It’s not that former 49ers general manager Trent Baalke completely ignored the quarterback position. In 2016, he used a sixth-round pick to take Jeff Driskel of Louisiana Tech and in 2013 he used a seventh-rounder to select B.J. Daniels of South Florida.
But that was it — just two choices out of 51 — in the five years since the Niners took Colin Kaepernick in the second round of the 2011 draft.
Now, as a new leadership group takes over, the 49ers are expected to soon lose Kaepernick, and there’s no young prospect waiting in the wings. Driskel and Daniels were quickly ejected, and the 49ers now have a huge void at the most important position on the field.
As new head coach Kyle Shanahan takes over this week, he has no one to lead what is expected to be a completely revamped offensive scheme.
That’s why new general manager John Lynch says finding quarterbacks for the roster is a “huge emphasis” over the next 2-3 months.
Lynch and Shanahan will be formally introduced at a 49ers news conference Thursday, but Lynch said in an interview on KNBR Tuesday that he and Shanahan will get together Wednesday to start discussing what the team needs. Quarterback is No. 1 on the list.
“We’ve already discussed it but we’re going to get together and find out exactly what he’s looking for in a quarterback,” Lynch said. “We’re going to evaluate the guys we have. We’re going to evaluate the draft. We’re going to look hard at free agency, trades, whatever we need to do to get a guy.”
As Cam Inman of the Bay Area News Group noted, even Kaepernick’s backups — Blaine Gabbert, Christian Ponder and Thad Lewis — all are potential free agents.
Several reports in recent weeks suggest some big-name QBs may be available via trade or free agency this offseason, including Jay Cutler, Brian Hoyer, Kirk Cousins, Tony Romo and Jimmy Garoppolo. Also, with the No. 2 overall pick, the Niners could select Notre Dame’s DeShone Kizer, North Carolina’s Mitch Trubisky or Clemson’s Deshaun Watson. Or, the 49ers could bring in a veteran and draft a QB prospect in the later rounds.
The 49ers have salary-cap space and as many as 11 picks in the draft, so they have some flexibility. But what they don’t have is a quarterback.
Lynch, speaking on KNBR, pointed out that 14 of the past 16 AFC champions have been quarterbacked by the elite trio of either Tom Brady, Peyton Manning or Ben Roethlisberger.
Said Lynch: “That just speaks to how important that position is.”