Steve Roberts-USA TODAY Sports

Steve Roberts-USA TODAY Sports

The Athletic predicts 49ers trade Jimmy Garoppolo to Steelers by month’s end

Feb 22, 2022 at 9:16 AM--

Don't count Tim Kawakami of The Athletic among those who are wildly predicting Tom Brady or Aaron Rodgers suiting up for the San Francisco 49ers in 2022. Instead, the longtime writer firmly believes that Kyle Shanahan and John Lynch will stick with the plan set forth when they traded a haul of draft picks to move up and select quarterback Trey Lance with the No. 3 overall pick.

The move started a countdown on Jimmy Garoppolo's time in the Bay Area. The veteran quarterback was to remain the starter for, at most, one more season, but Lance was the future. Now, San Francisco is expected to part ways with Garoppolo, officially declaring that the Lance era begins now.

The only real question is when Garoppolo will be shipped out of Santa Clara and to whom. A few items are stalling other quarterback moves. What will happen with Rodgers in Green Bay? What about Russell Wilson in Seattle? Team decision-makers are still keeping an eye on the Deshaun Watson situation in Houston.

Kawakami believes both the 49ers and Garoppolo are interested in finalizing the details of a move relatively quickly and know that a bidding war is unlikely. However, Kawakami also believes San Francisco wants to do right by Garoppolo, something his replacement, Lance, even acknowledged.

"If [Garoppolo] does [leave], he deserves to go to a great situation, so I think they're going to make sure they do get that done if Jimmy does leave," Lance told Rich Eisen earlier this month.

A trade cannot become official until the start of the new league year on March 16. However, nothing is stopping two teams from agreeing to the terms of a trade. Kawakami believes the 49ers could have a deal in place within the next six days, pointing back to the trade that sent Alex Smith to the Kansas City Chiefs, allowing San Francisco to move forward with Colin Kaepernick.

"I think something very similar will happen with the 49ers and Garoppolo," Kawakami wrote, "and it could happen pretty soon, though it can't be official until mid-March."

Kawakami believes a trade will be agreed to and reported by the end of this month. He also predicts a landing spot and the compensation for Garoppolo—to the Pittsburgh Steelers for a fourth-round pick this year and a conditional pick that could become a second-rounder next year.

Kawakami noted, "While I can guess that several teams will be interested in acquiring Garoppolo, I don't think any of them will plan for him as the long-term franchise QB. Which will limit his trade value."


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