Stan Szeto-USA TODAY Sports

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What does the Alex Smith trade mean for Jimmy Garoppolo and the 49ers?

Al Sacco
Jan 31, 2018 at 8:54 AM1


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The NFL offseason hasn't even officially started yet, and we've already seen a major move take place. The Kansas City Chiefs have agreed to trade quarterback Alex Smith to the Washington Redskins for cornerback Kendall Fuller and a third-round draft pick. Smith will also receive a four-year contract extension that's worth $23.5 million annually with $71 million guaranteed. The move sent shockwaves through the NFL as it sets the tone for what most expect to be a crazy offseason that will see quarterbacks sign deals with astronomical dollar amounts attached to them. It also assures that Washington's former signal caller, Kirk Cousins, will be playing elsewhere next year. With as many as five teams believed to have significant interest in Cousins, he could receive a payday worth nearly $30 million annually.

The Cousins situation is a big one because where he goes and what he ultimately gets contract wise could determine how the rest of the dominoes fall. With so many teams in need of a quarterback and others looking to re-sign/extend their current ones, Cousins will set the tone for the marketplace. For example, the San Francisco 49ers and Jimmy Garoppolo seem destined to work out a long-term marriage, but when that actually happens is up in the air. Garoppolo's camp would be smart to wait and see how much Cousins ends up being worth and take the situation from there.

Even if negotiations end up being a long, drawn-out affair, Garoppolo is well worth the wait for the 49ers, as his arrival transformed the franchise and energized a frustrated fan base. By now we all know about the 5-0 record and what was done on the surface, but when you break down the numbers, Garoppolo's performance was almost unbelievable, especially when you consider how inexperienced most of his supporting cast was.

With Brian Hoyer and C.J. Beathard at quarterback, the 49ers were averaging a paltry 17 points per game and scored more than one touchdown just four times in eleven tries. Once Garoppolo was inserted into the lineup, San Francisco put up almost 29 points per contest, and was held to under 25 just once. The offense went from averaging 26.6 yards-per-drive to a league-high 42.1 during Garoppolo's five starts, and scored on 62 percent of its drives, by far the highest rate in the league.

In terms of individual numbers, the most impressive of all may have been Garoppolo's yards per attempt, which stood at 8.8 after his 178 pass attempts. To that put that into perspective, Tom Brady's career high is 8.6 YPA, and he's only eclipsed 8.0 three times in his 16 full seasons. Drew Brees led the league at 8.1 YPA in 2017 (Garoppolo didn't have enough attempts to qualify), and his career high is 8.5. What's more, Garoppolo's been incredibly consistent in this department, as he's been at 8.0 YPA or more in every game he's started but one (7.92 against the Chicago Bears). Now, obviously, the sample size for Garoppolo is a small one, but that doesn't take away from how well he's performed when given the opportunity.

While the 49ers would like to get their franchise quarterback locked up as soon as possible, playing the waiting game isn't going to put the end result in any kind of jeopardy. Garoppolo's not going anywhere, the franchise tag that will inevitably be placed on him sans a new deal makes that a certainty, so why would he be in a rush to sign before he knows what his true value is? Odds are the situation will be a fluid one throughout the offseason, and the deal will get done when the time's right. It simply makes too much sense for both Garoppolo and the 49ers for it not to happen eventually.

Al Sacco is the Senior Writer for 49ers Webzone and has had his work used by national outlets such as ESPN and USA TODAY. In addition to his writing duties, Al is also the co-host of the No Huddle podcast. If you'd like to reach Al with a media request, please contact him via Twitter @AlSacco49 or at [email protected].
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.


1 Comment

  • Dallas Niner Fan
    Looking back at Kapernick, just more evidence of how bad he was as a QB. He had the same team around him and he could not win a game. No wonder why no one in the league wanted him.
    Jan 31, 2018 at 10:08 AM
    0


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