December 24, 2017; Santa Clara, CA, USA; San Francisco 49ers head coach Kyle Shanahan speaks to quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo, 10, between games against the Jacksonville Jaguars in the second quarter at Levi’s Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Kelley L Cox-USA TODAY Sports
Regardless of what the brass of the San Francisco 49ers want us to do, a deal with Jimmy Garoppolo could take place between now and the 2021 NFL draft in late April.
San Francisco made the surprising decision to move up from 12th overall to 3rd in the draft. General Manager John Lynch and Co. gave up two future picks for the first round and one selection for the third round in 2022. The 49ers have also made it clear that with the third pick they will pick a quarterback.
Whether it’s an attempt by Lynch and head coach Kyle Shanahan to up the ante in a potential Garoppolo deal or something else, the 49ers have publicly stated that they expect him to be their starter in Week 1.
There are several reasons why this makes sense. Garoppolo is a few years away from leading the 49ers to the Super Bowl. He also has a 22-8 record as a starter in San Francisco since being taken over in mid-2017. However, there are a myriad of reasons the 49ers will trade Jimmy Garoppolo as well. We’ll check them in below.
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The San Francisco 49ers’ interest in Sam Darnold is a clear indication
January 3, 2021; Foxborough, Massachusetts, USA; New York Jets quarterback Sam Darnold (14) on the bench against the New England Patriots in the first half at Gillette Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Winslow Townson-USA TODAY Sports
Before closing the aforementioned blockbuster deal through the third election, San Francisco was with then New York Jets quarterback Sam Darnold before joining the Carolina Panthers earlier this week. New York just wasn’t ready to pull the trigger. This information comes to us through Ian Rapoport of NFL Media and forms an important background here.
There’s absolutely no reason to believe the 49ers were interested in Darnold either to back up during training camp or to compete with Garoppolo for the starting job.
The struggling former USC star saw his option being exercised by the Carolina Panthers for nearly $ 19 million in 2022. San Francisco would not have cast several draft picks to improve the situation and allow Darnold to make a free choice next March. Given Garoppolo’s combined cap of $ 53.38 million over the next two seasons, signing both players was financially unsustainable. The acquisition of Darnold would have ended Garoppolo’s tenure in San Francisco.
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The trading market for Jimmy Garoppolo rose after the Sam Darnold deal
December 17, 2017; Santa Clara, CA, USA; John Lynch (left), general manager of the San Francisco 49ers, celebrates with quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo (10) after the game against the Tennessee Titans at Levi’s Stadium. The 49ers defeated the Titans by 25-23. Mandatory Credit: Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports
This is another important background when it comes to the Darnold to Carolina trade. Amazingly, the Jets were able to pick up a selection for the sixth round in 2021 and a second and fourth round from the Panthers for the struggling young quarterback in 2022.
It’s no secret that San Francisco is demanding a first-round selection in exchange for Garoppolo. While that seemed out of bounds at first, it now makes a little more sense. No objective observer believes that Darnold is anywhere near as good as its more experienced counterpart. Just look at their career stats.
- Jimmy Garoppolo: 32 starts (24-8 record), 8,042 yards, 51 TD, 26 INT (98.9 rating)
- Sam Darnold: 38 starts (13-25 record), 8,097 yards, 45 TD, 39 INT (78.6 rating)
Sure, some of it has to do with the level of talent on their teams. That’s good and good. But Garoppolo is head and shoulders above Darnold. Given that San Francisco rocked the top of the 2021 NFL draft, quarterback-needy teams like the New England Patriots and Denver Broncos could call and offer the equivalent of a first-round pick. If so, the 49ers have to listen. As simple as that.
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Jimmy Garoppolo contract and potential internal drama
January 11, 2021; Miami Gardens, Florida, USA; Ohio State Buckeyes quarterback Justin Fields, 1, warms up before playing the Alabama Crimson Tide in the 2021 College Football Playoffs national championship game. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports
Garoppolo will count $ 26.38 million toward the cap in 2021. San Francisco can save a whopping $ 23.6 million by trading with it. This is no small feat as the NFL salary cap fell in 2021 due to the COVID-19 pandemic. If you leave Garoppolo, the 49ers may be able to add another star player to a trade. Allen Robinson, anyone? In return, they could potentially target a cheaper option in Gardner Minshew as a stopgap quarterback.
Garoppolo has also been known to be unhappy when he heard the 49ers were advancing to three. San Francisco’s brass made this clear at a recent post-trade press conference. What would a potential training camp battle between the veteran and an unnamed rookie look like? Given the huge support Jimmy Garoppolo has from his teammates, this could lead to some major drama.