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Blame Deshaun Watson for Jimmy Garoppolo remaining on 49ers roster

Brian Renick
Mar 23, 2022 at 2:32 PM

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Sliding Doors was a 1998 film starring Gwyneth Paltrow as a woman who is fired from her job and ends up missing her train on the London Underground. Right after the doors close on the train meant to take her home, the film rewinds, and the scene is replayed, however this time, she makes the train. The film then alternates between the two storylines, while the two occasionally intersect.

The 49ers experienced their Sliding Doors moment on March 16th, 2021.

On January 28th, 2021 ESPN reported that Deshaun Watson, then of the Houston Texans, had officially requested a trade. The NFL world was already ablaze with speculation about where Watson could end up due to persistent rumors that Watson wanted out. One of the most popular destinations was the San Francisco 49ers, who had passed on Watson in the 2017 NFL Draft, despite having the 2nd overall pick.

By March 16th, the 49ers were reported to be one of two preferred destinations for Watson

That same day, Tony Buzbee, a lawyer in Houston, announced on Instagram that he had filed suit against Watson alleging sexual misconduct with a massage therapist. By March 22nd, Buzbee announced allegations by a total of 14 women, and the story would continue to develop until a total of 22 different women had alleged some form of sexual misconduct by Watson.

Four days later, on March 26th, the 49ers pulled off a massive trade with the Miami Dolphins, sending their 2021 1st round pick (#12), along with their 2022 and 2023 1st round picks, and a 2022 3rd round comp pick to move up to #3 overall, where they selected quarterback Trey Lance out of North Dakota State.

Flash forward exactly one year and two days from Buzbee's initial civil filing to March 18th, 2022, seven days after a grand jury in Houston declined to indict Watson on criminal charges, and the Houston Texans traded the embattled quarterback (and a 2022 6th round pick) to the Cleveland Browns for the following package:

2022 1st round pick (#13)
2022 4th round pick (#107)
2023 1st round pick
2023 3rd round pick
2024 1st round pick
2024 4th round pick

If that package looks eerily familiar, it's because it's almost identical to the one the 49ers sent to Miami last year, save for two extra 4th round picks.

I have to believe the package the 49ers sent to the Dolphins was the one they put together to send to Houston for Deshaun Watson prior to the sexual misconduct allegations coming to light on March 16th.

Trading for Deshaun Watson last offseason would have certainly meant the end of Jimmy Garoppolo's tenure with the 49ers as the team would have looked to trade him, either that offseason or prior to the trade deadline. Watson's cap hit in 2021 was only $10.5 million–compared to $6.2 million for Lance–so the team could have easily carried both QB's on the roster until they were able to extract as much value as possible in a return for Garoppolo.

Now back to the 49ers' present reality.

The team drafted Trey Lance third overall, and decided to keep Jimmy Garoppolo for the 2021 season on a team that GM John Lynch and head coach Kyle Shanahan believed was built to contend for a Super Bowl title. In the end, they weren't wrong as the team was a few plays away from beating the Los Angeles Rams in the NFC Championship Game and reaching the Super Bowl for the second time in three seasons. After the season concluded it was obvious that the team was ready to move forward with Trey Lance under center, and Lynch would look to trade Garoppolo during the offseason. Garopppolo even held what amounted to a farewell press conference.

After the Rams beat the Bengals in Super Bowl LVI, the attention of the NFL world shifted to the offseason. There were rumblings that Aaron Rodgers could be on the move. There were rumblings that Russell Wilson could be on the move. There was also a certainty that Jimmy Garoppolo was going to be available, and after those two situations worked themselves out, Garoppolo would be one of the top veteran options available in a market with more than a few QB-needy teams.

Then Russell Wilson was traded to the Broncos.

Then Aaron Rodgers signed an extension with the Packers.

Then Tom Brady un-retired to rejoin the Buccaneers.

And then news broke that Deshaun Watson would not face any criminal charges and was available in a trade. The Browns and Falcons became suitors, further complicating an already convoluted market for Jimmy Garoppolo by alienating their own QBs Baker Mayfield and Matt Ryan, who both became available for trade as well.

Watson did it to the 49ers again.

On top of all this movement, Garoppolo underwent surgery on March 8th for a shoulder injury sustained in the playoff victory against Dallas, which reportedly scared teams off of trading for him, especially with so many other options on the market.

Now it's March 23rd, 2022, and Jimmy Garoppolo is still a 49er. The market that seemed so promising at the beginning of the offseason has completely dried up outside of a Carolina Panthers team that could be interested but doesn't have a 2nd or 3rd round pick in the 2022 draft. The likelihood of a trade materializing at this point seems pretty slim.

Many fans are angry at GM John Lynch.

I blame Deshaun Watson.
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