While the reasoning behind the New England Patriots' decision to trade quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo to San Francisco remains in question, the 49ers' desire to retain him is evident.

The 49ers can keep Garoppolo for at least one more season if they exercise the option to use the franchise tag at an estimated cost of about $23.5 million in 2018. General manager John Lynch and company would like to sign the quarterback to a multi-year deal and make him the 49ers' franchise quarterback for the foreseeable future.

"You have our assurances, and the fans do, that we'd like nothing more to make him a Niner for a long, long time," Lynch said two days after the 49ers' final game of the season.

Garoppolo has been hesitant to make a long-term commitment to the 49ers while speaking with the media.

"I like being here," Garoppolo said after Week 17's victory over the Los Angeles Rams. "I think we had a good thing going at the end of this year. We'll see what happens."

Lynch hasn't seemed too worried about Garoppolo's reluctance to discuss his potential future with the 49ers.

"I think we've had conversations with him and we know where he stands, and we're comfortable with that," Lynch said.

With Garoppolo's contract status likely to be one of the more prominent offseason storylines, below are some key dates related to the quarterback's future with the 49ers.

February 20 - March 6

The 49ers can use the franchise tag on Garoppolo (or any impending free agent) between these dates. They have until 1:00 pm PT on March 6 to use it.

February 27 - March 5

The NFL Scouting Combine takes place between these dates. Team executives and player agents attend the annual event as part of the scouting process for the draft. If a multi-year contract between the 49ers and Garoppolo's agent, Don Yee, is agreed upon, this would be a likely location and timeframe where the deal would get done. Of course, it could get done sooner. It could also get done later. Read on.

March 14

The NFL's new league year kicks off on this date as does free agency. If the 49ers do not agree to a multi-year deal with Garoppolo and choose not to use the franchise tag, the quarterback will become a free agent at 1:00 pm PT on this date. However, it is unlikely the 49ers do nothing and Garoppolo hits free agency.

July 16

Should the 49ers use the franchise tag on Garoppolo, they will have until 1:00 pm PT on this date to sign him to a multi-year contract. After that point, the quarterback will only be able to sign his one-year tender with the 49ers, and the contract cannot be extended until after the team's final regular season game of the 2018 season.