Jimmy Garoppolo and the San Francisco 49ers are in the midst of a stretch that has seen them win four of five. This has San Francisco at 7-6 on the season and currently as the sixth seed in the NFC Playoffs.
Fresh off a hard-fought overtime win against the Cincinnati Bengals on Sunday, we’re now hearing some more regarding Jimmy’s future in Northern California.
Peter King of NBC Sports reports that San Francisco’s brass is still undecided about whether to keep Garoppolo for the 2022 season or go with youngster Trey Lance under center.
“I’m told the Niners have not made up their minds, at all, about how to handle their quarterback situation in 2022 and beyond,” King reported on Monday. “They shouldn’t be. How do you know how Garoppolo will play down the stretch, and into a playoff run if that’s the fate of this season? I’m also told the Niners have been impressed, with Garoppolo’s career on the line, with how he’s handled this weird year, with Lance being the third pick in the draft and with Garoppolo expected to just handle things like a pro. He has.”
As has been the case throughout his 49ers career, Garoppolo has been solid. He has not been spectacular outside of that all-important win-loss stat.
Jimmy Garoppolo stats: 66.7% completion, 2,937 yards, 17 touchdowns, eight interceptions, 99.2 rating
Garoppolo leads the NFL in yards per completion at 12.6. However, most of that has to do with 49ers receivers dominating from a yards-after-the-catch perspective.
Can the San Francisco 49ers justify bringing Jimmy Garoppolo back?
That’s literally the $27 million question for San Francisco heading into 2022. In today’s hard-cap era around the NFL, having a starting quarterback playing under his rookie deal represents a competitive advantage.
It has to be one of the reasons general manager John Lynch and Co. exhausted three first-round picks and a future third-round selection to move up to the No. 3 overall pick for Lance back in April.
The 49ers have young stars they need to consider extending this off-season. This includes elite play-makers in that of wide receiver Deebo Samuel and star edge rusher Nick Bosa. Both are going to demand top-five money at their positions. And as you will see below, both have dominated this season.
- Deebo Samuel stats: 57 receptions, 1,028 yards, 240 rushing yards, 11 total touchdowns
- Nick Bosa stats: 42 tackles, 18 tackles for loss, 28 quarterback hits, 14 sacks
It’s not that keeping Jimmy Garoppolo would prevent San Francisco from extending these players. Instead, it’s all about priorities.
Jimmy GQ is nothing more than an average quarterback. He struggles throwing to the outside and down the field. An argument can be made that he’s the 49ers’ biggest liability on offense right now. That’s not hyperbole.
San Francisco is not built around the quarterback position in the truest sense of the word. Rather, the team has built its foundation on the running game and winning in the trenches.
It’s similar to the bygone Alex Smith era before Colin Kaepernick took over for him during the 2012 season. That is to say, a limited veteran quarterback playing ahead of an unknown youngster with unlimited upside.
What happens over the final four games of the regular season and potentially the playoffs will tell us what we need to know here.
Should the 49ers make a surprisingly deep run in the postseason, their brass will likely push back against moving off Garoppolo. It’s not unlike following the 2019 season when San Francisco opted against signing Tom Brady mere months after Garoppolo “led” the team to the Super Bowl.
In and of itself, that should act as a lesson plan for the 49ers’ current brass. Garoppolo will not be the reason why San Francisco makes a deep run in the playoffs. But he could hinder said run.
With all of that said, the 49ers don’t seem to be prepared to move off the veteran.
“Jimmy’s one of my favorite people that I’ve ever coached,” head coach Kyle Shanahan said recently. “He’s a hell of a dude. He’s not trying to hide anything. I also don’t want to downplay it and say this whole situation is just not a big deal. It’s a huge deal. Really hard on him. But he came in with the right mindset all the way back in OTAs. He hasn’t gotten sideways at all through any of it. No matter what he hears, he’s been the exact same guy I’ve known the four years prior, and that’s given us a chance to fight through this year. It’s given us the chance to be at where we’re at right now.”
This would be an absolutely huge mistake, one that could set the 49ers’ franchise back years.