As the saying goes, “where there’s smoke, there’s fire.” And right now, there’s a plume of it hovering over Matt Ryan, whose career-long Falcons tenure has never looked more tenuous.
Soon the Falcons will have a new coach calling the shots and whoever inherits the role vacated by Dan Quinn, who was shown the door Sunday after Atlanta’s 0-5 start, will surely enact sweeping changes across the organization. Moving on from the 35-year-old Ryan would be a good place to start as the Falcons embark on their latest rebuilding phase. Owner Arthur Blank’s noncommittal remarks on Ryan’s future with the team earlier this week suggests the Falcons have already given strong consideration to this possibility.
With the 49ers quickly souring on pedestrian starter Jimmy Garoppolo (who face-planted in his return from a two-week injury absence Sunday against Miami), would head coach Kyle Shanahan pursue a reunion with his former star pupil in Atlanta, Matt Ryan? Tim Kelly floated the possibility in an article earlier this week and it seems plenty of others in the sports media field, including Dominique Foxworth and Dan Graziano of ESPN, are drawing the same conclusion. With Garoppolo’s contract short on guarantees (the Niners would only be on the hook for $2.8 million if they designate Jimmy G as a post-June-1st cut next summer), a changing of the guard at quarterback could be in San Fran’s very near future.
“I think that we could see Matt Ryan out west and the Falcons trying to rebuild around the draft picks that they get for that trade,” said Foxworth during his appearance Wednesday on Get Up.
“It’s a year-to-year commitment with the 49ers and Jimmy Garoppolo contractually,” agreed Graziano from across the studio. “And Matt Ryan doesn’t make a whole lot more money than Jimmy G does. It makes a lot of sense.”
Yes, it does. This isn’t so much reporting as speculation on Graziano’s part, but the obvious link between Ryan and his former Falcons offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan, now in his fourth year as 49ers head coach, cannot be ignored.