When the season ends, the San Francisco 49ers could simply apply the franchise tag to quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo to secure him for 2018.
But speaking on the “49ers Insider Podcast” with Matt Maiocco of NBC Sports Bay Area, former 49ers’ quarterback Jeff Garcia noted that he thinks a long-term contract is more appropriate.
“I say you have to lock it in for five years and build around him and not even worry about it any more,” Garcia said on the podcast, as transcribed by Maiocco. “I think you see everything that you would hope for and probably more than what you expected. … This young man is showcasing ability that can be locked in for a long time for this 49ers franchise.”
In three games as the starter, Garoppolo has completed 68.1% of his passes for 1,008 yards with two touchdowns, two picks, and a 94.6 passer rating.
Just as noteworthy is the team’s record. Before Garoppolo took over, San Francisco was easily one of the league’s worst teams, posting a 1-10 record. With Garoppolo being the only notable change, the 49ers have gone 3-0 in his starts.
The idea of the franchise tag is somewhat interesting. As good as Garoppolo has been, the sample size is still relatively small. San Francisco would likely pay more in 2018 with the franchise tag on a long-term deal, but it wouldn’t tie the team up long term if Garoppolo fizzled.
But in the end, it’s hard to argue with Garcia’s point. Garoppolo has thrived despite having very little talent around him, especially on offense. The 49ers have a poor offensive line that has surrendered seven sacks in Garoppolo’s starts. Also, while some of the players have stepped their games up, San Francisco’s group of receivers is one of the league’s worst. With ample cap space, the 49ers can improve the line and receivers, in addition to locking Garoppolo up.
Indeed, three games is not much of a sample size. But when we look at those three games, plus what Garoppolo did for the New England Patriots when Tom Brady was suspended, it’s safe to say that he’s worth a long term investment. General manager John Lynch seems to agree.