San Francisco 49ers leaving door open for Jimmy Garoppolo’s return in 2023

It was a drama-filled offseason for the San Francisco 49ers, who were looking for a proper way to usher in the Trey Lance era by searching for a trade partner for Jimmy Garoppolo.

Trading an above-average starting quarterback who’s taken his team to the NFC Conference Championship twice in three seasons? Shouldn’t be tough to find several interested suitors.

Except, that’s not what happened at all. While several teams were fascinated with adding Jimmy G, an offseason shoulder surgery complicated matters, with franchises wanting to be sure they weren’t trading for damaged goods.

Then, Lance suffered a season-ending injury just minutes into the second game of the year. This awkwardly caused the 49ers to turn back to the player they decided was not their franchise signal-caller.

Now Kyle Shanahan’s team finds themselves leading the NFC West at 7-4, with Garoppolo back to being a top-15 QB. Yet, like last season, there’s a certain level of uncertainty regarding Garoppolo’s future, with the 31-year-old set for unrestricted free agency at the end of the year.

Part of Garoppolo’s re-negotiation of his contract included a clause restricting the 49ers from assigning him the franchise tag. Basically, they either have to sign another contract or let Garoppolo walk for nothing, which they were deadset against when the year began.

Many would believe with Lance set to be 100% healthy at the start of next season, that the 49ers will simply allow Garoppolo to test the free agency market, but that may not be the case.

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Jimmy Garoppolo could help a lot of teams in 2023

NFL: International Series-San Francisco 49ers at Arizona Cardinals
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As Ian Rapoport passes along, Garoppolo and the 49ers may not break up this offseason either. Both sides would consider entering contract discussions again, which could bring Garoppolo back for a seventh season in a 49ers uniform.

Yet there’s a lot of football left to be played, and feelings could change over the next few months before free agency opens in March of 2023.

But if Garoppolo does hit the open market, expect several teams to get in the mix. Quarterbacks who have a 69.6% win percentage in the regular season don’t hit free agency often.

  • Jimmy Garoppolo stats in 2022: 67.4% comp rate, 16 TD, 4 INT

It’s possible other teams could view Garoppolo as a sort of bridge QB option, too, just as the 49ers appeared to until they traded up for Lance and allowed him to develop for a full season before thrusting him into action.

If teams aren’t convinced by the incoming quarterback draft class, a proven starter like Garoppolo could sound much more appealing to those organizations who feel they may be able to win now.

With QB remaining the highest-valued position in football, Garoppolo will have plenty of options when the time comes.

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