Baker Mayfield To The San Francisco 49ers? | Ryan Clark Says Wherever The Former No. 1 Overall Pick Goes, It’s As A “Backup”

Baker Mayfield released by Panthers might go to 49ers says Ryan Clark
(Photo by Maddie Meyer/Getty Images)

The tumultuous NFL journey of No. 1 overall pick Baker Mayfield continues. 

As first reported by NFL Network insider Ian Rapoport on Monday morning, the struggling Carolina Panthers are releasing Mayfield. Reportedly, the former Heisman winner out of Oklahoma was the one who requested the release. 

With both San Francisco starting quarterbacks out with injury, an unknown commodity named Brock Purdy led the Niners to a huge 33-17 shellacking of the Miami Dolphins on Sunday. 

With Baker’s availability, rumors have surfaced that the Niners might be willing to take a chance on Mayfield in a backup role. Mayfield still seems to believe that he is a starter, and that has complicated his NFL life the past couple of seasons. ESPN’s Ryan Clark says he has to accept the fact that he’s no longer that dude. 

“San Francisco has to look at Baker Mayfield, but Baker Mayfield is a backup,” Clark said on Monday morning’s “First Take” segment. “The problem with looking at Baker Mayfield is if Baker Mayfield is worth having on your team if he isn’t the starting quarterback. If he isn’t playing well.” 

Mayfield has always been a lightning rod and source of controversy, which has elevated his celebrity over the years but made him a locker room headache. 

“This is the conversation we consistently had about Cam Newton,” Clark continued. “Once he was no longer the starting quarterback of the Panthers … and Baker Mayfield has never in his life reached the heights on the field that Cam Newton had, but we always questioned whether he was worth having on your team because of the personality and the different attention he draws to himself and the team.”

 

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Baker Mayfield Ranks Among NFL’s Worst Quarterbacks 

Mayfield ranks dead last in the NFL in Total QBR (18.2), completion percentage (58 percent) and 28th in passing yardage per game (28th). Hardly worth the headache. Despite the fact that talking heads such as Skip Bayless have hitched their wagon to a few games of success that Baker managed back in 2019 and ’20, it is clear now that Mayfield peaked. 

Having weapons such as Odell Beckham Jr. and Jarvis Landry and Nick Chubb (35th pick, 2018 draft) actually did make Mayfield better. If you look at the trajectory of both players’ careers, even battling constant injuries, OBJ has proved to be the more valuable player and the more beloved player in the locker room. 

“[@Browns] [@BakerMayfield] Totally Screwed That Situation Up!”| Terrell Owens Praises OBJ While Trashing Baker Mayfield And The Browns

 

Mayfield Is More Johnny Manziel Than Drew Brees 

Mayfield’s demise shouldn’t come as that surprising. While he was always considered a talented college quarterback, as a pro he’s proved to be more Johnny Manziel than Drew Brees. Mayfield started his pre-draft career off with an embarrassing incident caught on video where he was drunk, tried to run from campus police and fell flat on his face. 

For most quarterback prospects that would have been enough to knock them out of the first round. Instead, general managers ignored red flags that Mayfield exhibited prior to the Cleveland Browns making him the No. 1 pick in a 2018 NFL draft that included Josh Allen and Lamar Jackson

Things never truly materialized for Mayfield who became a fan favorite and emerged as the big winner after Hugh Jackson was fired. The fans had been clamoring for the top pick to play, but Jackson wanted to go with veteran Tyrod Taylor. 

When Mayfield got the ball, he showed flashes of becoming the elite signal caller Cleveland fans have yearned for for decades. 

Mayfield set the rookie quarterback record for passing touchdowns and ended a 19-game winless streak for the Browns that season. The city of Cleveland was sure it had finally found its franchise quarterback. The brash-talking ball of energy followed up his rookie season by leading the Browns to their first playoff appearance since 2002 and first playoff win  since 1994. 

What Happened To Baker Mayfield In Cleveland?

At that point he was the toast of the town, and that’s when those red flags started flying again. Problems with teammates, ill-advised post game speeches, nagging injuries and inconsistent performance ultimately led to Cleveland going all in on Deshaun Watson and Mayfield being traded to the Carolina Panthers in 2022.

 

It was a swift rise and might fall for Mayfield, who still has endorsements and can be seen on commercials perpetrating as a top-notch NFL quarterback. 

Maybe the San Francisco 49ers will take a chance on Mayfield as a backup to their third-string quarterback as Trey Lance and Jimmy Garoppolo both nurse serious injuries. 

As far as Mayfield goes, he’s officially a bust as a No. 1 overall pick, but he still has some years left to have a serviceable NFL career and be recognized as a respected professional. He just has to settle down and find himself and deal with the reality of his situation. He’s a guy scratching and clawing to earn a stay in the NFL. Welcome to the real world.

JR Gamble joined The Shadow League in 2012. The General Manager of Content & Social Media is in his 25th year of covering sports and culture professionally. He has covered a wide variety of major sports and entertainment topics across different mediums, including radio, newspapers, magazines and national TV. His passion is baseball, the culturing of baseball and preserving and documenting the historically-impactful accomplishments and contributions of African-Americans in baseball.