Jimmy Garoppolo's tenure with the 49ers is on borrowed time.
He will undoubtedly be gone from the team, but the question is when?
During the NFL Draft is surely a prime opportunity to send him packing in a trade. The Patriots are a team that makes the most sense, especially if they do not draft a top quarterback prospect.
However, Garoppolo's trade value has taken a hit today. That is because of the Teddy Bridgewater trade from the Panthers to the Broncos. Bridgewater being traded was only a matter of time once the Panthers acquired Sam Darnold. At the time of the trade, I explained why a potential Bridgewater trade impacts Garoppolo's value. Both players are essentially in the same scenario with similar level of play and contract.
Bridgewater was sent to the Broncos for a sixth-round pick along with the Panthers having to pay $7 million of his guaranteed salary. If Bridgewater, who does not have availability issues, went for dirt cheap to the Broncos, then Garoppolo's value is certainly not much higher.
If the value for Garoppolo is a fifth-rounder or lower, are the 49ers better off keeping Garoppolo?
Even if his value is that low, the 49ers HAVE to get rid of Garoppolo. The reason the 49ers are spending all of that draft capital to get a rookie quarterback in the first place is for the bigger picture. They didn't make the move for an "all in" season for 2021. This team has always looked two-to-three years down the line. Since they have strong foresight, they should be aware that if they retain Garoppolo for whatever reason, they are setting themselves up for controversial headlines as the season progresses.
What if Garoppolo stays healthy and starts balling out? What if Garoppolo is the backup, but the rookie is stinking it up?
Remember, the locker room is likely to default its support to Garoppolo. There could potentially be a fracture there. Just look at how the Eagles' season went with Carson Wentz and Jalen Hurts. The 49ers have to avoid the possibility of anything like that occurring. Keeping Garoppolo is just not beneficial for the 49ers. 2021 is all about starting the rookie and allowing him to go through his growing pains. Let him get those reps to better himself for future years. It is better than standing on the sideline with an earpiece watching Shanahan get animated about Garoppolo's poor throws.
For what it is worth, I think Garoppolo is as good as gone when the draft is ongoing. Shanahan pretty much made that clear over and over again with his answers at Monday's pre-draft press conference. He repeatedly mentioned "drafting a starting quarterback" with the No. 3 pick and couldn't guarantee Garoppolo will be on the roster when the draft ends.
It is time to flip the page to a new era for the 49ers and it starts by trading Garoppolo. Ideally for them, trading Garoppolo to the Patriots for a conditional third-round pick has always seemed like fair value. The condition being based off of his starts since health is his biggest detractor along with his $27 million salary. If they cannot get that, the 49ers still need to send him packing.
They have committed so much to their future rookie quarterback already. Now is not the time to start falling short on that commitment by retaining Garoppolo.