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Why 49ers fans should hope the Fitzmagic runs out in Washington

Brian Renick
Aug 12, 2021 at 2:49 PM

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The 49ers drafted their quarterback of the future, and possibly the present, when they took Trey Lance with the third overall pick in the 2021 NFL Draft. They had to move a significant amount of future draft capital to move up to make that pick, and they did so even though they still had quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo under contract through 2022.

By all accounts, Trey Lance has impressed at training camp, being further ahead of schedule than even the coaches anticipated. Jimmy Garoppolo has also had a good camp, drawing rave reviews from team leaders like Trent Williams and George Kittle, and general manager John Lynch. There seems to be a delicate balancing act that the team and head coach Kyle Shanahan are playing with the quarterback position, tamping down expectations for Lance and building up Garoppolo at the same time. I believe this balancing act has one end in mind: to increase Jimmy Garoppolo's trade value to recoup some of the capital used to draft Lance.

With that in mind, there is one team that seems like the perfect fit for Garoppolo: the Washington Football Team.

Washington won the NFC East division last season with a 7-9 record, largely behind a dominant defense and despite sub-optimal quarterback play. Four different quarterbacks started a game for head coach Ron Rivera last season: Kyle Allen, Dwayne Haskins Jr, Tyler Heinecke, and former 49er, and the feel-good story of 2020, Alex Smith. In an attempt to get more consistent play out of the quarterback position for the 2021 season, the team signed 38-year-old Ryan Fitzpatrick to a one-year deal this past offseason.

Much like the Denver Broncos, the Football Team is poised to win more games than it loses if the offense can simply get average quarterback play throughout the season. The skill positions have some intriguing talent in the form of running back Antonio Gibson, receivers Terry McLaurin, Curtis Samuel, and rookie Dyami Brown, and tight end Logan Thomas could have a breakout year as well. All of this could be a recipe for a top-15 offense, as long as the QB play is consistent.

However, for as much as Ryan Fitzpatrick lived up to his "Fitzmagic" nickname last season in Miami, including the game that he absolutely torched the 49ers to the tune of 350 yards and 3 TDs, he has, throughout his career, lived up to his "Fitztragic" nickname with some long stretches of absolutely horrendous quarterback play. At 38 years old, and playing in a new offensive scheme, which side of Fitzpatrick can Washington really expect to show up?

The NFC East seems ripe for the picking again. The Eagles are breaking in a new head coach in Nick Sirianni, and the roster is in shambles right now. The New York Giants are heading into a make-or-break season for third-year quarterback Daniel Jones, and their QB2 is currently Mike Glennon. There are some big question marks in Big D, with quarterback Dak Prescott returning from a horrific ankle injury last season, and currently battling an unspecified shoulder injury during camp. The Football Team has a very realistic shot at winning another division title as long as the quarterback position does not hold it back.

If Ryan Fitzpatrick's play for the Football Team is less than stellar during the first half of the season, and Jimmy Garoppolo has a healthy, bounce-back season for the 49ers, the Football Team could look to Santa Clara to bolster its QB room for a playoff push.

Washington has the salary cap space this season, and next season, to absorb Garoppolo's contract in a mid-season trade, and the team would have a season and a half to evaluate whether or not he could be its QB of the future. The Football Team is built to win now, and Garoppolo could be the quarterback to help it do that.

49er fans should hope the Fitzmagic runs out in Washington this season.
The opinions within this article are those of the writer and, while just as important, are not necessarily those of the site as a whole.
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