Jimmy Garoppolo is the starting quarterback for the San Francisco 49ers.
Kyle Shanahan has remained adamant that he is and will be the starter. However, it is obvious that Garoppolo's time as the starter and with the 49ers is short. It could be as short as the beginning of the regular season, and that is exactly what the 49ers should do.
The 49ers should cut Garoppolo as soon as he has served his purpose.
While Garoppolo is the starter by name, he is really just the place holder at quarterback until Trey Lance looks sufficient to start. That is something that I believe will not take long. Lance has already cemented a "chunk" of the playbook in his mind and he still has a few months to lock in the rest of it. When that happens, Garoppolo serves no purpose as his value is to push Lance.
There is no need of a "Alex Smith/Patrick Mahomes" situation when Garoppolo is not of Smith's ilk. That would be a slight against Smith who is the much better quarterback, especially intellectually. 2021 needs to be an all-in effort on developing Lance. He does not need to beat out Garoppolo nor match him in training camp. He just needs to demonstrate that he is relatively close to his level.
At that point, the 49ers need to roll with Lance and let him get his reps in. A lack of snaps in a game has been a critiquing point about Lance, so wouldn't it behoove the 49ers to start him to get him those reps? What is he going to learn chilling on the sideline with a clipboard and an earpiece, anyway? Learning by doing is the only way to really get his development going. And if you're the 49ers, you live with his mistakes. You live with those growing pains because you want to help him work through them to better him for the future. And when they better Lance, they ultimately better the team.
The 49ers invested a heavy sum of draft capital to get Lance. He has to be the guy going forward. When they made that trade, it was never about 2021, but about about the long-term picture. Having Lance waste away on the sideline while he is on a cost-effective rookie contract is horrible. Then they have to spend Year 2 of his career working through his kinks. It just isn't beneficial for the 49ers.
Plus, Garoppolo's cap number is $26.4 million right now. Even if he does start and eventually get supplanted by Lance, the 49ers are just burning money at this point. That is money that can help ease the cost of a Fred Warner extension and to pursue free agents next season. Shanahan is on the record of saying that "if it fits in the cap" then it works, along with Jed York's approval. But it is the principle of the matter that they're backing all that cash for a player to be a backup.
Ideally, the 49ers would be able to trade him and get some draft compensation back. There just isn't a team in the quarterback market right now. The only way for a trade to occur is if someone gets injured from now until training camp. Unless that happens, Garoppolo will continue to have minimal value.
A lot can happen over the next three months. One thing is for certain: there is no guarantee with Garoppolo's tenure with the 49ers.