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Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports


49ers Must Keep Jimmy G and Draft a New QB

Gilbert Brink
Dec 9, 2020 at 10:14 AM


"Iron sharpeneth iron; so a man sharpeneth the countenance of his friend."
-Proverbs 27:17

A phrase thousands of years old applies aptly to the San Francisco 49ers today. Social media is a haven for divisive debate, and if you are a 49ers fan, there has been no topic more hotly contested than who will be the man behind center for the team in 2021. Jimmy G loyalists see a man being unfairly and ungratefully judged for circumstances out of his control. Optimist onlookers peer at other passers with a whimsical glance at what may be.

Whichever side you may fall on, it's evident that the quarterback position will dominate the conversation for this team from now until September 2021 and beyond. Most of this complicated conundrum began after the 49ers lost the Super Bowl to the Kansas City Chiefs in February. After a meltdown Super Bowl loss, fans gravitate to the notion of finger-pointing. It is a comfortable position for a fanbase grieving a perhaps once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. On a team comprised of 53 players, dozens of coaches, scouts, and executive personnel, it is tantalizing to imagine that the cause of this horrible disappointment could be boiled down to just 1 person. This creates an optimistic outlook for a heartbroken tribe. If this one person wasn't there, then we would have had been able to embrace that incredibly elusive moment of ecstasy. For many 49ers fans, QB Jimmy Garoppolo has conveniently become that man.

Garoppolo isn't Pat Mahomes. Nor is he Aaron Rodgers, Russel Wilson, or even Josh Allen. No, the current 49ers QB1 isn't a top-tier athlete with immeasurable physical ability. In today's NFL, the improv QB is like the PS5. Most people don't have one, you might know someone who does, and you wish you had one, too. I don't blame the fans. The 49ers know the joy of watching playmaking QBs like Steve Young, Jeff Garcia, and Colin Kaepernick. Not only do they make for better TV, but if the 49ers were to dump Jimmy G and take a shot at drafting one in April, it would also free up a large chunk of cap space for a team in dire need of cap relief. Just take a look at what a team can do with a rookie QB on a cheap contract: the Chiefs won the Super Bowl, the Bills have restored themselves to relevance, and even the Browns are 9-3. By cutting Garoppolo and drafting a young stud QB in 2021, the 49ers would save nearly $20m net and potentially open a new championship window with a great trio of pass-catchers and a defense wielding a returning Nick Bosa. See, I literally just talked myself into believing what half of the 49ers fans on Twitter have been screaming for the last 2 months. It's quite easy.

The most important word in that last paragraph is "if." If the 49ers draft a young stud QB, they could set up another championship window. If. That is the issue with drafting a rookie QB. If you hit it big, mission accomplished. If you miss, you sink a half-decade into a player who wasn't worth half a season. Ask the Jets, Titans, Bucs, or Bears about missing. Players like Sam Darnold, Jameis Winston, Marcus Mariotta, and Mitch Trubisky have given their teams absolute sinkholes that have swallowed GMs, coaches, and fans' hearts for year on end, just to figure out years later that these guys never had it. Hell, sometimes teams even trade up to take these players and are left not only investing years of time into a bad QB, but sacrificing at other positions to do so.

Drafting a 1st-round QB can be such a dangerous game to play that some might wonder why a team would play it when it has a pretty good player at the position to begin with. Jimmy Garoppolo isn't everyone's cup of tea, clearly. Despite the divisiveness of his being, his peers voted for him to be the 43rd-best player in the entire league in 2019. He ranked in the top 5 in many statistical categories and led the 49ers to a Super Bowl. In that Super Bowl, like the rest of the team, he played pretty damn good for 3 1/2 quarters. Garoppolo may not be an elite QB, but he is unquestionably a good QB. He is a known entity, unlike anyone the 49ers will be able to select with their presumed mid-1st-round selection.

If there is one thing the 49ers cannot do it's afford to trade up for that unknown player. Heading into 2021, the team has 40 players who are becoming free agents. This team needs the draft picks more than any team in the league. The criticism of Garoppolo has at times seemed unfair, but some people's reasoning to move on from Garoppolo is actually quite sound.


Though Garoppolo has played very well for the team, he has had a hard time actually playing due to injuries. The 49ers do need to draft a new QB, maybe not to replace Garoppolo immediately, but to bolster the position and give Kyle Shanahan another option if Garoppolo continues to get injured or fails to progress in the offense.

The truth often lies within the middle of a passionate argument. Both sides invested usually have proper reasoning for their respective stances and convictions and the 49ers QB debate is a great example of this. Unless something drastic changes in the next 4 games, this team needs to stare down the QB room and make a bold move. You keep your incumbent leader and you bring in the man who can take his job. Garoppolo gets a fresh year to show if he can still be a top QB, and Shanahan gets to legitimately handpick his 1st-round QB. Iron sharpens iron.
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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