Tommy Gilligan-USA TODAY Sports

Tommy Gilligan-USA TODAY Sports

ESPN suggests this Jimmy Garoppolo trade for 49ers in unique mock draft

Apr 22, 2022 at 2:17 PM--

Most expect trades to occur during next week's draft. Maybe a lot of them. ESPN's Bill Barnwell takes it a step further in his latest mock draft—if you can call it that. It doesn't even focus on players being drafted. Instead, the focus is—in case you haven't already guessed—trades.

But it's not just projected trades. Barnwell goes overboard, making his latest mock draft an all-trade affair. That's right. It's his 2022 all-trade mock draft. Every pick involves a trade.

Obviously, things won't get to this level of madness. However, Barnwell attempts to present a plausible transaction at each draft slot in the first round.

The San Francisco 49ers don't currently own a first-round pick, thanks to last year's trade to get into a position to draft quarterback Trey Lance. Barnwell maps out a scenario in which San Francisco gets back into the first round, and it doesn't even involve Deebo Samuel. Instead, it involves the team's starting quarterback of the past four-and-a-half years—Jimmy Garoppolo.

The 49ers have been trying to trade Garoppolo, but the quarterback's stock plummeted after undergoing shoulder surgery on March 8. No one wanted to trade for a passer who can't even throw until closer to training camp. Most quarterback-needy teams have seemingly filled their voids, including the Pittsburgh Steelers, who acquired Mitch Trubisky.

Maybe that's not good enough for the Steelers. Maybe they want to spark some competition heading into the 2022 season.

Barnwell has the 49ers shipping Garoppolo, the No. 61 overall pick (second round), and the No. 134 overall pick (fourth round) to the Steelers. They receive the No. 20 overall pick and the No. 84 overall pick (third round) in return. It would be tough for the Niners to surrender that second-round pick, but it might be worth it if they like a player enough at No. 20.

Garoppolo's over $25 million salary is seen as an obstacle. Barnwell has a solution. It's not necessarily a win for the 49ers, though.

"To get this to work, the 49ers would convert $16 million of Garoppolo's base salary into a roster bonus and pay it immediately, bringing his salary down to a far more palatable $8.2 million," wrote Barnwell. "The Steelers would move down 41 picks for the privilege. This deal would value Garoppolo and the $16 million San Francisco is eating as something close to the 27th pick in a typical draft."

For San Francisco, they might need to decide what is more valuable. The draft pick or the salary cap space. Once healthy, cutting Garoppolo outright would provide the most significant savings. But then the 49ers would get nothing in return. Keeping him on the roster in 2022 and then letting him leave in free agency next year would at least net a future compensatory pick, but that would be in 2024.

"There's no way these teams could make this move on the fly, so this would have to be agreed before the draft," Barnwell adds. "The Steelers would need to get a look at Garoppolo's recovery from surgery, and the 49ers wouldn't restructure his contract unless they were sure a deal could be done. This is probably too messy to actually happen, but there's a universe in which both sides could benefit."

So who do the 49ers select with that newly acquired No. 20 overall pick? Who knows? As I said, that's not what this wild mock draft is all about.

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