At that point, it was rather clear that San Francisco’s brass had lost faith in Garoppolo remaining healthy. The clear target was quarterback. Then, in late April, the 49ers pulled the trigger by selecting North Dakota State product Trey Lance with the third pick.
The backdrop here was the huge bounty general manager John Lynch and Co. handed to the Miami Dolphins in the aforementioned trade. That included two future first-round selections and a 2022 third-rounder. It was also at this point that Jimmy Garoppolo found himself subjected to trade rumors.
Now that things have died down on this front and with less than two months to go before the start of training camp, it’s looking more and more like Garoppolo will remain in the Bay Area. He’s also going to compete with Lance for the starting job this summer.
According to ESPN’s Jeremy Fowler (h/t Bleacher Report), there’s still strong support for Garoppolo within the 49ers’ organization.
“I’m told Garoppolo still has significant support in the 49ers building,” Fowler reported on Sunday. “They feel like if he’s in the lineup, he’s healthy, ‘We win.'”
This could very well be PR spin on the 49ers’ front. The trade market has died down considerably for Garoppolo after the New England Patriots (Mac Jones) and Chicago Bears (Justin Fields) drafted quarterbacks in the first round of the draft. The Denver Broncos’ status as the frontrunner for Aaron Rodgers adds another layer to this.
Should the San Francisco 49ers be confident in Jimmy Garoppolo?
There’s a whole lot of factors to look at here. When Garoppolo has been under center in San Francisco since being acquired from New England midway through the 2017 season, all he has done is win. The same thing can’t be said about the plethora of mediocre quarterbacks Kyle Shanahan has thrown out there during that span.
- With Jimmy Garoppolo starting: 22-8
- With other starting quarterbacks: 7-27
Those are some eye-opening splits. It’s also important to note that Garoppolo is legitimately less than 16 months removed from leading San Francisco to a Super Bowl appearance. This can’t be lost in the dialogue.
Even then, it’s all about the quarterback remaining healthy. He’s missed 23 of a possible 48 games to injury over the past three seasons. This included a torn ACL back in 2018 and multiple ankle injuries that limited the 29-year-old quarterback to six games in 2020. This is what led to San Francisco trading up for Trey Lance in the first place.
It’s not a “either or” scenario for the San Francisco 49ers
This is something that doesn’t get enough attention as the 49ers prepare for a 2021 season in which they expect to contend for a title.
Garoppolo is set to count $26.38 million against the cap in 2021. The 49ers can save a ridiculous $23.6 million by releasing or trading the veteran. It has led to speculation that he will be moved.
With that said, San Francisco budgeted for Garoppolo’s cap hit ahead of free agency. It has no desire to restructure said contract, which would link the quarterback to the 49ers financially beyond next season.
Rather, the likelier scenario here is that Garoppolo beats out Lance for the starting job during training camp with the rookie being utilized in certain packages. It’s somewhat similar to what we saw with Alex Smith and Colin Kaepernick back in 2012 before the latter ultimately took over the starting job and led San Francisco to the Super Bowl.
Some might conclude that the 49ers’ interest in a blockbuster trade for Julio Jones would change the dynamics on this front. I am not too sure. San Francisco can create enough cap room to acquire the Pro Bowl wide receiver without having to restructure the contract of Jimmy Garoppolo or moving on from him altogether.