Stan Szeto-USA TODAY Sports

Stan Szeto-USA TODAY Sports

Albert Breer not buying that the 49ers are considering keeping Jimmy Garoppolo for 2022

Nov 26, 2021 at 11:32 AM--

Head coach Kyle Shanahan stated this week that he's not willing to close the door on the possibility that quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo will return to the San Francisco 49ers in 2022. Naturally, that led to headlines stating that Garoppolo might return next season when most figured the team would transition to Trey Lance by then. Of course, that wasn't exactly what Shanahan stated.

"I think there's a chance for anything," Shanahan said on Wednesday when asked about Garoppolo's future.

The coach went on to reiterate that Lance is the team's future. The timeline, however, remains up in the air, especially with Garoppolo playing at an impressive level over the last four games. Obviously, the 49ers would prefer the transition take place sooner rather than later, assuming Lance proves himself to be ready to succeed the veteran quarterback. A rookie quarterback contract is more salary-cap-friendly than the same contract paired with Garoppolo's expensive (yet fair) salary. Garoppolo is due a base salary of $24.2 million next season and will count $27 million against the cap, per Over The Cap.

"But I think we've made it pretty clear that Trey's our guy of the future, whenever that will happen," Shanahan continued. "... We believe Trey will be our guy of the future, and like I said, I think it will be really hard, if Jimmy's on it, for [Lance] to beat him out right away. So, it's kind of going like that right now, and I'm not thinking much past that."

The 49ers also have other key player extensions to consider, and having more salary-cap flexibility will ensure retaining the team's core of talent.

Garoppolo also is not closing the door on a possible return. He is, of course, under contract for next season. However, the no-trade clause does not exist for him after this season.

"Honestly, with the possibilities, I try not to close any doors too early," Garoppolo said on Wednesday. "It's one of those situations, you've just got to let it play out, I think."

Sports Illustrated's Albert Breer doesn't believe the 49ers are seriously considering keeping Garoppolo in 2022. The team keeping Lance sidelined during his rookie year to use the time to learn made perfect sense, considering the young quarterback's lack of collegiate experience. Lance had no control over how he was utilized at North Dakota State, the school's opponents, or COVID.

"Given that the Niners already had a quarterback who'd gotten them to the Super Bowl on hand, it always made sense to give Lance the redshirt year he needed," Breer wrote in a recent mailbag article. "And now that Super Bowl quarterback, Jimmy Garoppolo, has the team in position to make a run at getting into the playoffs, so this has mostly gone according to plan.

"But if Lance isn't the starter next year? Then, I think there'd be bigger questions to ask, considering what they gave up to get him, and the fact that NFL teams have been way more creative than they used to be (Kyle Shanahan was, in fact, one of the guys who started that, in Washington all the way back in 2012) in getting young quarterbacks out on the field.

"That's why I'm not buying the Niners are truly considering running it back with Garoppolo in 2022, if Lance is living up to expectations."

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