Colts: DeForest Buckner trade talks with 49ers nearly resulted in Jimmy Garoppolo package

Jimmy Garoppolo of the San Francisco 49ers looks to throw the ball against the New England Patriots. (Photo by Adam Glanzman/Getty Images)
Jimmy Garoppolo of the San Francisco 49ers looks to throw the ball against the New England Patriots. (Photo by Adam Glanzman/Getty Images) /

Trade negotiations with the 49ers last offseason almost saw Jimmy Garoppolo land with the Colts.

The Indianapolis Colts pulled off the trade of the offseason last year when they acquired defensive lineman DeForest Buckner from the San Francisco 49ers in exchange for the No. 13 overall pick in the 2020 draft.

Buckner paid immediate dividends, as he quickly proved to be the defense’s most important player outside of linebacker Darius Leonard. For the season (15 games), he compiled 58 tackles, 9.5 sacks, 26 QB hits, 31 pressures, three passes defensed and two forced fumbles, earning All-Pro honors in the process.

The 26-year-old was nothing short of a revelation for Indy, but what if we told you that he almost wasn’t the only piece included in that blockbuster deal? Per Sports Illustrated insider Albert Breer, the Colts inquired about the availability of quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo (!) during negotiations, though those discussions never really gained much traction.

Here’s what Breer had to say about the near deal that would’ve seen the Colts land their supposed quarterback of the future.

"“Indianapolis seems like the natural landing spot for Stafford. The question, then, becomes whether GM Chris Ballard and coach Frank Reich would see Stafford as a Band-Aid or more than that. The team went with a Band-Aid last year, in Rivers, after taking a shot with Jacoby Brissett in 2019 (and that was after Jimmy Garoppolo’s name briefly came up in the DeForest Buckner trade talks with San Francisco).”"

Is anybody else’s mind blown? It’s crazy to think about how much this trade would’ve changed things for the Colts. For starters, they never would’ve signed Philip Rivers to a one-year deal and likely would’ve had to send at least two or three more draft picks to the 49ers.

Not to mention that they wouldn’t be in contention to trade for any of the quarterbacks — Deshaun Watson, Matthew Stafford and (maybe) Aaron Rodgers, all of whom are vastly superior to Garoppolo– set to become available this offseason.

Perhaps more noteworthy is how much Garoppolo regressed in 2020 after he helped lead the 49ers to a 13-3 regular season record and ultimately a double-digit fourth quarter lead in the Super Bowl last year before the Chiefs kicked it into high gear.

In six starts, he completed 67% of his passes for just 182.7 yards per game and seven touchdowns to five interceptions while averaging just 7.8 yards per pass attempt. On top of that, Garoppolo’s injury concerns reared their ugly head, as an ankle issue limited him to just six contests.

There’s no reason to dwell on something that never came to be, but based on how the season unfolded, you’d be hard-pressed to deny that trading for Garoppolo would’ve been a disaster for Indy. Instead, however, they acquired one of the game’s elite pass rushers and have all their draft picks to trade for somebody who could step in and help them compete for a championship in 2021 and beyond.