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It’s Time for the 49ers to Move On from Jimmy Garoppolo

Brian Renick
Nov 2, 2020 at 3:00 PM2


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I don't think Jimmy Garoppolo is a bad quarterback. I think he is a good quarterback who, when surrounded by a good team, can lead said team to a Super Bowl, as evidenced by the 2019 season. I also don't think it is fair to judge Garoppolo as harshly as some have this season because, according to reports, the guy has been playing on torn ligaments in his ankle. When healthy, Jimmy has done quite a bit of winning in his career. The only quarterbacks with a higher winning percentage (with at least 30 games started) than Garoppolo's .743 are Lamar Jackson, Patrick Mahomes, and Tom Brady, in that order. That's pretty good company. However, there has only been one season in his career during which he has played a full 16-game season, and that was 2019. Football is a violent game, and injuries are bound to happen, but when your quarterback is injury prone, it's tough to field a consistent winner. I think it's time for the 49ers to move on from Jimmy Garoppolo.

Garoppolo's contract, the largest in league history when signed in early 2018, is easy to get out from under this offseason. According to overthecap.com, the QB will count $26.9 million against the cap in 2021, but almost all of the guaranteed money has been paid out already, so if the 49ers decide to trade or cut him, he will only count $2.8 million in dead cap money, for a savings of $24.1 million. With the projected cap dropping down to $175 million, the entire secondary set to hit free agency, and Fred Warner eligible for an extension, financial flexibility is something this team will need moving forward. It received some cap relief by trading LB Kwon Alexander to the Saints the day before the trade deadline, and will probably get more by cutting DE Dee Ford in the offseason, but getting rid of Garoppolo's contract will give the team a completely clean financial slate moving forward. It's time to draft a quarterback high in the first round.

When head coach Kyle Shanahan and GM John Lynch got to the 49ers in 2017, the roster was bereft of talent. The team had the #2 pick in the draft and it seemed pretty clear in the run-up to the draft that they were not high on any of the quarterbacks coming out. Hindsight being 20/20, two of those quarterbacks were Patrick Mahomes and Deshaun Watson. Oops. Let's not get it twisted though, neither one of those players was a sure thing (most quarterback prospects aren't), but even if they were, this team had nothing in the way of talent and a quarterback wasn't going to help it that season. In fact, it was hard to see a quarterback prospect having success on that team until at least year three, which would have been a waste of a rookie contract. That is the big difference between 2017 and 2021: this 49ers team is loaded with talent moving forward.

The biggest competitive advantage teams can have in the NFL is a good quarterback on a rookie contract. It allows teams to spend money in other areas of the roster to build a consistent winner around a young, talented gunslinger. With the sheer volume of injuries currently plaguing this team, and with news that Garoppolo and All-Pro TE George Kittle are out "indefinitely," the 49ers will likely find themselves in the same unique position they found themselves in after the 2018 season: a good team with a bad record. Now, the team could still reel off some wins behind Nick Mullens at QB, but with the remaining schedule it faces, it seems relatively unlikely.

This will put John Lynch and the front office in a position to draft one of the top quarterback talents likely to declare for the 2021 NFL Draft: Trevor Lawrence of Clemson, Justin Fields of Ohio State, Zach Wilson of BYU, or Trey Lance of North Dakota State (Carson Wentz's alma mater). I think Trevor Lawrence to the New York Jets is a done deal. The Jets may go winless this season, and if they pass up the opportunity to draft Lawrence, after the season they've had, the fan base would likely revolt. That leaves Fields, Wilson, and Lance. I am not a quarterback evaluator, but all three options seem like they have the talent necessary to succeed at a high level in the NFL, because all three of them are incredibly athletic and can use their legs to extend plays, unlike Garoppolo, even before the ankle injury. With the continued evolution of incredibly athletic defensive linemen, a quarterback who can escape the pocket has become almost a necessity.

Having a talented QB on a rookie deal would allow the 49ers to extend Fred Warner and Trent Williams this offseason, and extend Nick Bosa, Deebo Samuel, and Mike McGlinchey (although I'm not sold on The Glinch as of this writing) when they are eligible. It would also extend their Super Bowl window with the renewed financial flexibility a rookie deal provides. Are any of the QB prospects a sure-thing? Absolutely not, but the team cannot continue to pay $27 million to an injury-prone quarterback.

It's time to move on from Jimmy Garoppolo.
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.


2 Comments

  • Kell
    Ironic you wrote this on his birthday
    Nov 2, 2020 at 11:27 PM
    0
  • Essl
    Maybe the Patriots want him back. Scam Newton is on the outs as well.
    Nov 2, 2020 at 3:50 PM
    0

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