Jeffrey Becker-USA TODAY Sports

Jeffrey Becker-USA TODAY Sports

Kawakami: 97 percent chance 49ers get rid of Jimmy Garoppolo by training camp

Apr 1, 2022 at 9:08 AM--

The San Francisco 49ers are holding onto hope of getting something in return for quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo. They may have overplayed the situation, though.

The 49ers obviously value Garoppolo higher than the rest of the league. Most figured he would be moved by the start of the league year on March 16 because of his salary-cap figure. That didn't happen. San Francisco was able to do some cap maneuvering to hold onto him before the deadline.

It doesn't help that the often-injured quarterback is injured once again, recovering from the shoulder surgery he underwent on March 8. It caught the 49ers by surprise and derailed their trade plans.

Tim Kawakami of The Athletic believes the 49ers will be lucky to get a fifth-round pick for Garoppolo when everything is said and done. Who knows when that will be, though. No one is eager to sign a quarterback who won't even be cleared to throw until closer to training camp.

"And at some point, Jimmy Garoppolo—97 percent [chance] Jimmy Garoppolo will not be on this team once the first training camp practice begins," Kawakami told KNBR's Tom Tolbert and Adam Copeland this week. "... They've delayed it. They don't need to make that decision. They've fit him under the cap."

Kawakami doesn't feel that keeping Garoppolo has significantly impacted the 49ers' offseason. Fans listing big-name free agents who signed with other teams or the 49ers' own players who have gone elsewhere will disagree. However, there is nothing indicating the 49ers were heavily interested in those players. They have always expressed that their roster-building plans rely heavily on the draft.

"I don't think they lost anybody by fitting it under the cap," Kawakami said. "I just don't think that's the way they played it. If there was somebody great for them to sign where they needed Garoppolo's money to use it, they would have just cut Garoppolo and then signed them."

Then there is the possibility that the 49ers are willing to hold onto Garoppolo and last year's No. 3 overall pick, Trey Lance. Although, that still seems far-fetched. Kawakami admits that in an ideal world, holding onto a veteran who knows the system while your 21-year-old quarterback remains a question mark is a scenario worth entertaining.

"I didn't think they could keep him when the league year started," Kawakami said. "I just didn't think they could fit that salary in the cap. They figured out a way to do it. They're pretty good at this stuff. That buys them time."

Still, all signs continue to point toward Lance starting in 2022. The 49ers invested too much in the young quarterback not to make that happen. Keeping Garoppolo on the roster might create an awkward situation in the locker room, especially if Lance struggles out of the gate.

"I think they've been very clear with Lance," Kawakami added. "I think what Shanahan said [this week] really underlined that they're communicating with him. He's the guy. They're telling him he's the guy. They're just on this other road trying to maintain the—whether it's the illusion or the possibility—just to maintain some sort of trade value, so when Garoppolo can throw again, whether that's June, early July, or whatever it's going to be, maybe try to trade him there or you just cut him there.

"They've bought themselves the time. It's clunky PR. It's awkward to talk about. ... Trey Lance is the starter. Everything is geared up for that. They've hired Brian Griese to basically be his mentor. They're setting things up for Trey Lance to be the guy."

You can listen to the entire conversation with Kawakami below.

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