Jimmy Garoppolo will be the starting quarterback for the San Francisco 49ers in 2021. If he is healthy.
During an interview with Clark Judge and Ira Kaufman on The Eye Test for Two podcast, 49ers General Manager John Lynch was asked about the quarterback: “If he is injury-free, is there any doubt in your mind that Jimmy Garoppolo is your quarterback when you line up in September?”
Lynch did not hesitate with a response: “No. Not at all. I really believe that.”
Garoppolo has been anything but injury-free during his time in San Francisco, missing 23 games since the start of the 2018 season.
While many, myself included, have suggested that the best course of action would be to move on from Garoppolo due to his inability to stay healthy, it appears that the 49ers are more focused on improving the backup quarterback situation for 2021.
“Being available is a big part of this thing,” said Lynch. “So, we — probably as a stated goal — we have to insulate ourselves better. We’ve got to have better options if he’s not there.
“I’ve watched people go through this in their careers where they struggled early. It happened to me early, and then I went eight years without missing a practice. So, I believe things can happen, and I believe they will for him. I really believe that Jimmy is our guy.”
The 49ers have found a lot of success with Garoppolo in the lineup since trading for the quarterback on October 30, 2017. Garoppolo has started a total of 30 regular season games for the 49ers, posting a record of 22-8.
“When he’s healthy, he’s played at a high level,” Lynch said. “But we probably have to add someone. We probably need to improve ourselves, so if he’s not there, we’re all right; we can win games.”
Taking Lynch at face value, having a quarterback room that features Garoppolo, a rookie that can come off the bench if needed, and Josh Rosen isn’t all that bad. Consider this, in the last two weeks of 2020 with a number of players out, a much-maligned offensive line and C.J. Beathard starting at quarterback, the 49ers were able to defeat the Arizona Cardinals before nearly upsetting Seattle in the season finale.
The bigger question facing the 49ers would be: How will they construct the rest of the roster with Garoppolo back?
Keeping Garoppolo would almost certainly signify that Trent Williams, Kyle Juszczyk, Jason Verrett, and many of the other top free agents from the 2020 roster will not be back with the 49ers. In short, San Francisco would need to feel confident in re-signing their own lower cost-free agents and a few from other teams along with their 2021 draft class to fill out their roster.
The 49ers could choose to rework Garoppolo’s deal to open up additional cap space by converting a portion of his salary to a bonus, but this may not be the best choice if they aren’t ready to commit to the quarterback beyond 2021. The reason being, by creating cap space in this manner the 49ers would be creating a larger dead cap hit if they decide to move on prior to 2022.
Deciding to stick with Garoppolo would be a major roll of the dice for Lynch and Kyle Shanahan, but with five years remaining on their contracts it appears that this may be a chance they are willing to take.