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49ers and QB Jimmy Garoppolo pulled a win-win out of a lose-lose situation

Brian Renick
Aug 30, 2022 at 1:14 PM


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In a surprising move, the 49ers are retaining former starting quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo for the 2022 season after agreeing to a contract restructure that shrinks his base salary from a non-guaranteed $24.2 million to a guaranteed $6.5 million, with $500k in roster bonuses. There are incentives within the deal that could bring it all the way up to $15 million, but those are based on playing time.

According to Overthecap.com, Garoppolo's new deal carries a cap hit of $8.94 million, which is a far cry from the $26.95 million he was slated to earn if he was on the roster by Week 1 of the NFL season. With this restructure, the 49ers went from $2.9 million in cap space to $21.32 million, which currently ranks them 5th among NFL franchises.

This was not the outcome that many (any?) in the NFL anticipated at the beginning of the offseason. Garoppolo even said farewell to the fans and the media during his end-of-season press conference, and Kyle Shanahan and John Lynch both confirmed that the team was moving forward with Trey Lance under center.

This was not the outcome that the 49ers or Jimmy Garoppolo expected either.

The 49ers were actively looking to trade Garoppolo, hoping to recoup some of the draft capital spent in the trade-up to acquire Lance in the 2021 NFL Draft, and then in early March, Garoppolo decided to undergo shoulder surgery to repair the injury he sustained in the playoff victory over the Dallas Cowboys, essentially tanking his trade value and making it near impossible for the 49ers to trade him.

Meanwhile, the teams that needed or wanted a change at the QB position continued to fill their vacancies, leaving a barren market for John Lynch to work with once Garoppolo was fully cleared post-surgery.

As the preseason wore on, it became more and more apparent that a Garoppolo trade was likely not in the cards, so the narrative shifted from "when are the 49ers going to trade Jimmy G," to "are the 49ers going to release Jimmy G?" There was simply no world where the 49ers would be willing to carry Jimmy Garoppolo and his $26.95 million cap hit—which would become fully guaranteed if he was on the roster Week 1. That cap hit was likely one of the biggest factors in teams not engaging in trade talks with the 49ers because they surely assumed the team wasn't going carry Jimmy Garoppolo at that salary. Teams likely weren't willing to give up draft capital to trade for Garoppolo if they could just wait out his release.

At this point, it seemed like a lose-lose situation for both the 49ers and Jimmy Garoppolo.

It was a losing proposition for the 49ers because their stated goal this entire offseason was to get something of value in return for Jimmy Garoppolow while clearing significant cap space and turning the page to the 22-year-old future of the franchise.

It was a losing proposition for Jimmy Garoppolo because a release would be a significant financial loss and on top of that, a lack of desirable destinations remained in order to resurrect his career and compete for another big-money contract.

It was out of this lose-lose situation that both sides pulled out an improbable win-win.

The 49ers won by clearing nearly $20 million in cap space while simultaneously strengthening their position in the quarterback room. This is not a hedge against Trey Lance as a starter, it's a hedge against Nate Sudfeld and Brock Purdy needing to take meaningful snaps if Lance were to miss time due to injury. Now the team has a backup QB that they know they can win games with.

Jimmy Garoppolo won because he is now guaranteed a shade under $9 million for the season, and as the backup quarterback on a talented roster, he is poised to cash in as a free agent in 2023, just like Mitchell Trubisky did this past offseason after spending the 2021 season in Buffalo as Josh Allen's backup.

Was this the ideal scenario for either side? No.

Garoppolo's free agent prospects would have been much better had he been able to secure a starting job with another franchise, and the 49ers would have been better off not inviting the type of distractions this move will inevitably cause among the fanbase and media.

But, was this a win for both sides when it appeared they were both headed toward losses?

Absolutely.
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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1 Comment

  • BigAl
    This was JGs call.. He wouldve come to JL or KS and said look I rather stay here this year and am ok being the backup...Agents can have a strategy to this--we've seen QBs kind of rehabilitate the narrative surrounding themselves by taking a year and being a backup. Trubisky and Mariotta were the latest.... I mean as long as JG doesnt hurt himself carrying that clipboard or whatever hes gonna probably now finally stay healthy and a team could become desperate in the next few months. Its hard to envision a team wanting him as a starter next year though, when they didnt this year. Not to mention theres quite a few good QB prospects coming in next year as well, 3 potential starters as of now, minimum. Like Ive stated months ago, and I thought we were gonna release him....But JG has more value to us as a backup QB than anywhere else in the league. I am completely cool with him staying around as a backup for awhile and I hope thats how it plays out.
    Aug 30, 2022 at 6:17 PM
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