Stan Szeto-USA TODAY Sports

Stan Szeto-USA TODAY Sports

4 reasons why 49ers QB Jimmy Garoppolo needs to move on

Marc Adams
Mar 29, 2022 at 9:49 AM--

I have to confess. I'm tired of hearing and reading about Jimmy Garoppolo. It's not because I don't like the guy. I have always supported him as the quarterback of the San Francisco 49ers. On the day Garoppolo said "goodbye" to fans and media, I posted this:

But I'm ready to move on. The 49ers need to move on. Garopolo's surgery tanked his trade value, and currently, no team seems to want him. Yet, the team needs to move on anyway.

General manager John Lynch spoke at the NFL Annual Meeting on Monday and suggested the 49ers could keep Garoppolo. To which my response was an emphatic, "Noooooooo!" Not because I don't love Garoppolo, but because it's time to move on from him and begin the Trey Lance era.

Lynch either doesn't agree, or more likely, is bluffing. Regarding the 49ers releasing Garoppolo, Lynch responded, "I don't foresee that. He's too good a player. I think Jimmy will be playing for us or will be playing for someone else. He's too good of a player not to be."

"We value strength at that position," Lynch said. "To be completely forthright, though, when you make a trade of that magnitude (for Lance), most of our options did not include Jimmy on our books (in 2022). On our team. But you always have to adapt and a series of events happened that it didn't work out. But that's not a bad thing, though. We feel positive with it. And we'll make it work.

"All along we understood that we really valued Jimmy so never were we just going to give him away. Guys like Jimmy, who have won a lot of games, I love, and Kyle loves, and ownership loves. His teammates love him. They don't grow on trees. He's won a lot of games for our organization. We were always going to hold true to what we thought his value was. I would say at the combine there were real conversations that were pretty far along, but when the shoulder surgery happened …"

Of course, I'd prefer that Lynch say there's no way Garoppolo is on this roster by the time training camp begins, but if he were to say that, it could make last season's starting quarterback even harder to trade. And again, right now, no one wants Garoppolo.

49ers coach Kyle Shanahan, speaking Tuesday morning at the NFL Annual Meeting, was asked if Lance will start this year.

"That's why we looked into trading Jimmy," he responded.

Shanahan said they haven't made a call on what it'll look like if both are on the roster. He added, "Jimmy is a good quarterback, so he's not easy for anyone to beat out. Trey wasn't ready to beat him out last year. He'll definitely be closer to that this year if that happens."

Again, any talk of Garoppolo being in Santa Clara during training camp makes me nervous. Shanahan did say, "We brought Trey here to be [the starter] eventually, and I think that he will be sooner than later." I personally hope it's soon, as in now. My guess is Lance is the starter, but Shanahan won't name him as such until Garoppolo is gone. Shanahan and Lynch need to keep teams thinking they may stick with Garoppolo, as far-fetched as that may sound.

Why am I so determined that Garoppolo needs to move on? I'm glad you asked. Here are my four reasons why Jimmy Garoppolo needs to move on:

1. You can't have a backup quarterback making $27 million.

Not only that but if Garoppolo is the backup, that would mean the third-string QB, Nate Sudefeld, would be making $2 million. That's $29 million to quarterbacks you don't want to play.

Lynch was asked if the 49ers can afford Garoppolo at his current price if he's the backup. He replied, "The answer is yes. We can and (like I said), we have prepared for this all along. It's not easy, but we'll get creative and we'll figure it out."

I'm sure they can find a way to make it work. But it seems like a waste of cap space when that money could be allocated to other players who could make an impact on the field.

2. You can't make Lance wait longer.

Whether or not Lance is ready now doesn't really matter. He needs to be the guy now so he can get ready. He needs snaps. He needs experience. He needs to be the guy, and have his teammates see him as the guy. Being a backup quarterback for another season isn't going to help him.

Some will take Garoppolo still being with the 49ers as proof that Shanahan doesn't believe in Lance. I do not believe that at all.

On Tuesday, Mike Florio of Pro Football Talk wrote, "So what are the 49ers really doing here? They surely don't intend to pay Garoppolo $25 million to be the backup to Lance. Unless they think Lance isn't ready (which is possible), the sooner they clear Garoppolo off the roster, the better off Lance will be."

I rarely believe what Florio says, mainly because he's almost always wrong, but I tend to agree with what he said about how this affects Lance. Especially the part about how if the 49ers keep Garoppolo, it undermines Lance.

The 49ers need to do right by Trey Lance, which happens to also be what's best for the team, and proceed as if Lance is the starter. Maybe they are communicating that internally. That's fine. Those of us on the outside can continue to wonder, as long as they are moving forward with Lance.

3. Bringing back Garoppolo could fracture the locker room

Last season, Hall of Fame quarterback Steve Young said the 49ers QB situation was "fraught with terror." And he should know what that looks like. Young was one-half of the biggest quarterback controversy in NFL history.

In 1987, 49ers coach Bill Walsh brought in Young to challenge for the team's starting quarterback position. According to Young, it wasn't supposed to be a competition. Walsh had believed that Joe Montana's playing days were over due to multiple back surgeries. He was wrong. Montana still had some years left, including two more Super Bowl titles.

Young played in spots during the 1987 season and even replaced Montana during a playoff loss to the Minnesota Vikings. Then during the 1988 preseason, Walsh famously said, "Well, our strength is at quarterback, but our problem is we have two. There's a quarterback controversy developing. We'll have to select between Steve Young and Joe Montana."

Walsh not only acknowledged a quarterback controversy, but he also seemed to foster it. During the 1988 season, Walsh alternated between quarterbacks. For 10 games that season, the 49ers ran a two-quarterback system that created more frustration than wins, and the two quarterbacks became more and more irritated at their head coach. Finally, at 6-5, Walsh named Montana the starter, and the team went on to win its third Lombardi trophy.

During that season, it wasn't only Montana and Young who were frustrated with Walsh. Other players were, as well. Some assistant coaches were. The locker room was torn. The players could see the raw talent Young possessed, but Montana had been there and led them to two championships already. Some of the players were angry at Walsh for taking the future Hall of Famer off the field, in spots, just so Young could play. And they certainly didn't like not having a definitive answer on who their starting QB was.

Could something similar happen in 2022? I certainly think so. There were rumors that players last season didn't like when Shanahan took Garoppolo off the field to play Lance early in the season. If both are in training camp, we can expect more of the same.

Lynch was asked what that might look like. He answered, "We've got a lot of time and we've talked about a lot of things. But I do know that competition brings out the best in people. I think it did for both of them last year. And I would expect that would be the case going forward."

Asked if he's worried about the potential for there being a more awkward QB dynamic than there was last year, he replied, "I don't think it was awkward last year. I don't want to speak for those guys. I think Jimmy at the end, when he was saying his farewell, he may have never felt awkward. I give those guys credit for that. I give the lines of communication between Kyle and Rich Scangarello, who was the QB coach, all that credit. I don't think it ever felt awkward. Like I said, I do feel like when you have strength at that position, that's a good thing for your team."

Lynch doesn't seem concerned. But I am, and I would guess so is Young, Montana, and any other player that lived through the 1988 season.

4. I'm tired of having to spell out 'Garoppolo'

I'm kidding—sort of.

Will the 49ers trade Garoppolo before training camp? It's looking less likely. Will they actually have him on the team during training camp, or will they cut him? We'll have to wait and see. But for me, I think it's time for him to move on. Not because I don't like him, but because of the four (well, three) reasons above.
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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