Cary Edmondson-USA TODAY Sports

Cary Edmondson-USA TODAY Sports

ESPN predicts Jimmy Garoppolo as the 49ers’ starting QB in 2021

Feb 18, 2021 at 6:20 AM--

ESPN offered a vote of confidence in Jimmy Garoppolo as the San Francisco 49ers' starting quarterback in 2021 — sort of. Insider Field Yates predicted the starting quarterback for each NFL team. Some changes include Deshaun Watson for the Carolina Panthers, Carson Wentz for the Indianapolis Colts, Sam Darnold for the Chicago Bears, and Marcus Mariota for the New England Patriots.

Of course, you also have rookies on the list. Yates has Trevor Lawrence with the Jacksonville Jaguars, Justin Fields with the Houston Texans, and Zack Wilson with the New York Jets.

While Yates lists Garoppolo as the 49ers' starter, he doesn't sound entirely confident about the selection. After all, there has been so much chatter about San Francisco possibly pursuing other options.

"This is an interesting one," wrote Yates. "Jimmy G has been a part of a 49ers team that has won a ton of games with him under center, yet this still feels like a much less than 100% certain scenario. His contract is at the juncture in which the team can get out from it without major financial penalty -- it could trade or release him and save more than $23 million."

The salary-cap penalty for moving on from Garoppolo would be just $2.8 million, and the quarterback has missed 23 games over the past three seasons. Garoppolo is also 24-9 (including playoffs) as San Francisco's starter, so it's tough to ignore the success he's had when actually on the field.

That leaves an uncertain offseason filled with rumors, linking the 49ers to any quarterback who seemingly could be available.

"With the quarterback carousel spinning, everyone wants to connect Kyle Shanahan to any of the available options," Yates continued. "But there has been enough messaging from the team lately to make me believe Garoppolo is the man for one more season (or more)."

Yates' colleague, Jeremy Fowler, recently broke down the 49ers' quarterback situation in a separate ESPN feature and felt the 49ers would like to upgrade but aren't willing to surrender too much to do so. The team is fine heading into the 2021 season with Garoppolo at the helm, especially if he can stay healthy.

"Multiple league execs believe the 49ers are looking for upgrades at quarterback but are also content entering the year with Garoppolo," wrote Fowler. "In other words, they won't overreach or overspend unless the situation is perfect. Running it back with Garoppolo, who is 24-9 as a starter in San Francisco, is still on the table."

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