With the trade the San Francisco 49ers made late last month, moving up nine spots from the 12th pick to the 3rd in this upcoming draft, giving up three first-round picks and a 2021 third-round compensatory pick in the process. It is without question a move for a quarterback. In this quarterback heavy draft, they put themselves in a position to pick the best available option left on the board with both the first two picks most believe to be quarterbacks. It’s no surprise for a roster ready to win now, with most of the core players that made it to the Superbowl two years ago still intact.
Now the question of Jimmy Garoppolo’s future comes into focus, since signing a five-year, $137.5 million deal; he has suited up a little over 50% of his games, playing in 25 of a possible 48 games. In 2018, he played just three games going 1-2 as the 49ers finished 4-12, then he played all 16 games in 2019, leading the team to a 13-3 record and a Super Bowl appearance. However, in 2020 he played just six games, going 3-3 as the 49ers finished 6-10. The best ability is availability and Garrapollo simply can’t stay healthy.
Regarding his contract situation, the 49ers structured his deal to give him $48.7 million guaranteed at signing. $74.1 million was guaranteed for injury. The contract contained a signing bonus of just $7 million, with a further $28 million in a guaranteed roster bonus in 2018. Garoppolo’s salary cap hit was $37 million in 2018, before ranging from $20 million to $27 million between 2019 and 2022. Jimmy Garrapollo has two years left on his deal, with just $2.8 million in dead money so moving on from him this summer should be relatively easy, but that doesn’t seem to be the way San Francisco is leaning.
After the trade, John Lynch, the General Manager, spoke to some reporters and the message was that he is still very “much a part of our plans…” Lynch said:
Jimmy welcomes the competition. We felt like we had a team that can compete… We went to ownership, said ‘Hey things are looking good, we want to make this (trade), but we don’t want to say goodbye to Jimmy.
Head coach Kyle Shanahan echoed Lynch’s sentiment. He told the media that the team still plans to have Garoppolo as their starting quarterback.
Looking around the league, it’s getting harder to see a spot for Jimmy G. With the talent influx of quarterback in this draft a lot of teams will have an answer at the position. One intriguing team is the Washington Football Team, with a top defense that’s going to keep getting better, a solid offensive line, and exciting skill players with the addition of Curtis Samuel together with Terry McLaurin and Antonio Gibson in the backfield.
This is a roster that’s ready to win. Granted, it looks like they already made their quarterback move with the free agency signing of Ryan Fitzpatrick, but you have to believe this offense will have a higher ceiling with Jimmy Garrapollo as opposed to the inconsistent play of Fitzmagic.
Another team is the Denver Broncos; they have all the makings of a team that could potentially break out this year. The Broncos have done a good job of adding good skill players in the past few drafts with Courtland Sutton and Jerry Jeudy just to name a few, and a defense that can’t be ignored with the return of Von Miller and a healthy Bradley Chubb with the talents on the back end headed by Justin Simmons. There is one problem though, there are major questions about Drew Lock, who hasn’t taken that next step as the organization would like, and maybe adding Jimmy Garoppolo to create competition is something they should consider.
This exercise can’t be complete without mentioning the New England Patriots. Part of the friction that led to the departure of Tom Brady in New England was when they drafted Jimmy Garrapollo and Bill Bellicheck was grooming him to be the next great Patriot quarterback. We know how that ended with Brady winning a couple more Super Bowls. Now it’s a new era in New England, and even with Can Newton resigning, there if Jimmy Garrapollo is available. You can be sure the Patriots will still be interested.
After the draft, we will get a clearer picture of which team could still be in the market for a quarterback. Right now, San Francisco might just have to hold on to their guy.