For most of this offseason, the San Francisco 49ers have stated that Jimmy Garoppolo is in their quarterback plans for 2021, but it seems like those plans could change.
During the 49ers pre-draft press conference, Kyle Shanahan left no doubt that the team traded from the 12th to the 3rd selection to get a starting quarterback. The head coach repeated this several times.
When he was asked if Garoppolo would be on the roster following the draft, Shanahan responded, “I can’t guarantee that anyone in the world will be alive on Sunday.”
The overarching theme that came out of that the press conference was the 49ers would be moving on from Jimmy Garoppolo.
These strong words cost the 49ers any leverage they may have had in a trade for Garoppolo, and the quarterback along with those around him wasn’t happy with how dismissive Shanahan had been.
When Shanahan spoke with the media on Thursday night following the selection of Trey Lance, it seemed like Shanahan realized what his words had done and tried to walk them back when asked about Garoppolo.
“First of all, I’m glad you asked about Jimmy," Shanahan told reporters. "I totally bombed that on Monday. I hated how that came off. I talked to Jimmy about it right away. I didn’t realize that when I did it. A person I have a relationship with who sometimes when he asks me what I think is a silly question, sometimes I mess with him back, and that’s kind of what I was doing. That was between me and that guy, had nothing to do with Jimmy when I said, I didn’t know if we’d be alive on Sunday. I was just trying not to get my typical answer of, ‘Guys, anybody can be traded if you get a bunch of ones, John should trade me, and I shouldn’t be here on Sunday.’
“That’s the answer for every person on our team, but Jimmy’s situation is, if he isn’t here on Sunday, I would be disappointed because Jimmy is a quarterback who’s played one year and took us to a Super Bowl and played at a very high level. He’s had some unfortunate injuries, but I believe in Jimmy as a person and he’s shown what he can do on tape.
"Now, we made this move, so it’s obvious what I hope and what I believe in with this guy coming in, but it would be a very tough situation if Jimmy’s not on our team. I want Jimmy to be here and I want Lance to be brought along. I want to see how he does and if it turns into a competition, it turns into a competition. I’d be excited about that if he showed he was ready for it and stuff, but we know where Jimmy’s at. He hasn’t played football in a year. He hasn’t been to an OTA. I’d love to get him out here. It’d be very hard for me to picture a situation where Jimmy’s not here on Sunday, because that would be, I think, very stressful for us because Jimmy is a very good player and I think we can win with him. So, we’ll play that by ear, but I expect Jimmy to be here, and I’d be surprised if he wasn’t.”
Garoppolo remained quiet through the end of the draft, but emerged on Tuesday to appear on a number of radio shows, the intent of which appeared to be selling himself as a team-first player to the rest of the league in hopes that another organization would make a serious trade offer for him.
49ers owner Jed York then ramped up the rhetoric further while appearing on the 49ers Talk Podcast with Matt Maiocco and Laura Britt.
“We’ve talked about this internally," York said. "If we’re in a situation where Jimmy goes out and takes us to a Super Bowl again and has an MVP-caliber season, and does it again, there are worse dilemmas to be in. And Jimmy certainly has the ability to do that.
“Knowing it’s the most important position in sports, and it’s great to have a guy that you do believe in and has gotten you to a Super Bowl. So you don’t have to put the weight of the world on a rookie, whoever it was we were going to choose. And now that we know Trey is here, you don’t have to put the weight of the world on that kid’s shoulders. And he can grow into that position.”
None of this passes the sniff test. So, what is going on?
as though both parties are looking for a way to make an amicable split that would be beneficial for both parties.
For Garoppolo, finding a trade partner is the best possible scenario while also benefitting the organization. Should the 49ers decide to release him it would be highly unlikely that he would be able to command the $25 million that San Francisco currently owes him for 2021, and if Lance wins a quarterback competition in training camp the 49ers would possibly look to reduce his salary. Paying that type of money for a backup quarterback isn’t good business.
Where could the 49ers trade Garoppolo at this point? Teams just spent the weekend filling out their rosters and many of the likely landing spots added quarterbacks.
There are a few potential landing spots that quickly come to mind.
The Houston Texans could be in the market for another quarterback in the coming months as Deshaun Watson’s court case drags along. The Texans signed Tyrod Taylor during free agency, and picked up Stanford quarterback, Davis Mills during the third round of the draft.
While Taylor is a veteran presence, he has struggled to win games as a starter for Buffalo and spot starts for Cleveland and the Los Angeles Chargers.
The front office in Houston has a history with Garoppolo. Nick Caserio was in the Patriots front office when the team drafted and developed the signal caller.
Don’t completely rule out the New England Patriots just yet either. Yes, they just drafted Mac Jones in the first round and re-signed Cam Newton during free agency, but Garoppolo is still the apple of Patriots fans eyes and the front office.
One last team to look at would be the Green Bay Packers. Green Bay has only two quarterbacks on their roster in Aaron Rodgers and Jordan Love. With Rodgers refusing to join the team for workouts this leaves the Packers in a bind as offseason workouts begin, and reports have surfaced that they could be in the market for a veteran quarterback. What better way to fill that gap than swing a trade for a player who has spent the past four seasons running the same offensive system and beat you to earn a trip to the Super Bowl?
All three of these options may seem far fetched, however there have been a lot of moves made this offseason that seemed unlikely until they happened.
While there was a lot of talk about smoke screens during the run up to the draft, it appears that things have a way to go before the smoke clears up in Santa Clara.