What can the San Francisco 49ers do about the Jimmy Garoppolo situation?
Jimmy Garoppolo has resumed throwing after his surgery in March, just as the 49ers try to find the best future for both the player and the franchise.
Jimmy Garoppolo seemed to be on his way out once the San Francisco 49ers drafted QB Trey Lance with the third pick in the 2021 NFL Draft. He still played another season as the starting quarterback in California, achieving a 12-8 record and a NFC Championship Game appearance, even if his play was not the main factor for the success of his team. This time it seems like his time with the 49ers is finally over and he will be part of another team once September and the NFL season come.
An exit interview and an injury
Back in February, just after the 49ers’ 20-17 defeat against the Rams, team general manager John Lynch and Garoppolo got together and decided that, as the QB explained, they were interested in “finding the right destination” for the player. Garoppolo finished the season as the starter even amid his nagging injuries and Trey Lance development as a run-pass QB, but he still had to have surgery in his right shoulder in March. The 30-year-old QB is still recovering from the procedure, but he has been able to resume throwing for the past couple of weeks, which makes him a more enticing player to trade for if he can get ready for the beginning of the season.
This will allow teams to get first-hand looks at what shape Garoppolo is in and how he could help their teams, with a few such as the Seattle Seahawks already interested and inquiring about his situation. The main hurdle to get a deal done, one that would throw the 49ers straight into Trey Lance’s time as QB, is the ex-Patriot $24.2 million salary, which most teams do not have space for. Both QBs had similar passer ratings, 98.7 for Garoppolo and 97.3 for Lance, but the team expects the latter to keep improving as he’s in his rookie contract, which would also help the team have more resources to build around him.
A non-guaranteed deal
Jimmy Garoppolo is exploring his options through his agent Don Yee, both in relation to which teams he can end up with and for how much money. He has already denied the possibility of a reunion with Tom Brady in Tampa Bay, but Yee said that his client is “progressing well and on schedule. We’re optimistic about the upcoming season”.
It is the 49ers who are still holding the cards and can decide where Garoppolo ends up next season, but they have already shown a willingness to let other teams talk to their QB about reworking his contract. The fact that none of Garoppolo’s $24.2 million are guaranteed means that teams such as the Seahawks, that as of now only have around $15 million in cap space, could still pursue the quarterback if he agrees to take a pay cut. It will be a game of expectations, with Garoppolo maybe willing to forgive part of his salary if he’s assured a starting spot in a roster, as would probably be the case in Seattle, with Drew Lock being his only rival there. As of right now, the Browns are one of the only teams with enough cap space to absorb his contract straight up, as they deal with Deshaun Watson’s situation.
The 49ers may be sure that Garoppolo will not be a part of their team once training camp ends and roster spots start to count, but they are holding onto him with the hope that they can still gain some kind of asset in a trade for the 30-year-old if some teams show enough interest. If this does not happen, Garoppolo will most probably end up being released and being free to negotiate with any team that still has a need at QB when the time comes.