Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

Fowler: 49ers’ draft moves could change plans for Jimmy Garoppolo

Apr 5, 2021 at 7:36 AM--

San Francisco 49ers quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo is set to earn about $25 million this year. Whomever they pick at No. 3 overall will have a cap hit of about $6.2 million in 2021, per If the gap between the two players isn't seen as great—and a lot of that may depend on actually getting the rookie into the building and seeing how fast he can progress—that could accelerate the plan to part ways with Garoppolo.

Maybe something happens before the draft. Maybe it happens during, after, or even next year. For now, the 49ers sound comfortable keeping Garoppolo around for another season while their rookie quarterback sits and learns. It's a prudent plan considering the roster is built to compete for a championship right now.

On Sunday, ESPN's Jeremy Fowler discussed the 49ers' quarterback situation during a SportsCenter segment (h/t to Rob Goldberg of Bleacher Report).

"I've been asking around, and multiple league execs have told me that the 49ers have not been overly eager to trade Jimmy Garoppolo in recent weeks. They've been comfortable keeping him, but they do believe they would move him at the right price; think a first or a high 2nd-round pick."

That seems to match up with two reports last week that stated the 49ers are fine with holding onto Garoppolo, as planned, and would only deviate from that plan if an offer for the quarterback wowed them. Albert Breer of Sports Illustrated was the first to report that it might take a first-round pick for the Niners to entertain the idea of a trade.

"I was told that, yes, it'd take a first-round pick for the Niners to listen at this point," wrote Breer.

Two days later, Michael Giardi of NFL Network echoed the report.

"What I'm hearing right now is the asking price is a first-round pick," said Giardi on-air.

That is a clear indication that San Francisco plans to hold onto Garoppolo in 2021 unless a quarterback-needy team becomes desperate and overpays for him.

Who San Francisco drafts could impact its plans, too. What if they go with a more raw prospect like Trey Lance, who many feel needs time to learn as he transitions to the pro level? What if the team goes with the more NFL-ready prospect in Mac Jones, who isn't seen as having as high a ceiling? What if Justin Fields is the pick? The former Buckeye is a little more seasoned and could have a higher ceiling.

"Now, it all depends where they fit here with the No. 3 overall pick," Fowler continued. "If they go with a player they think can start right away, maybe it's a Mac Jones or a Justin Fields, that could change things with Garoppolo. But if it's a more developmental player like a Trey Lance, that could move them to keep Garoppolo for a year. Because I'm told they've been looking for upgrades."

The 49ers currently own about $18.3 million in salary-cap space, so they are financially prepared to carry both Garoppolo and a rookie during the upcoming season. Garoppolo has to be the favorite to start Week 1, regardless of who they select No. 3 overall. He'll be looking over his shoulder all season, though.

"They're comfortable keeping Garoppolo," Fowler added, "but the injury history, missing 23 games the last few years, the $24 million salary all major issues here."

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