SF 49ers: More evidence why Jimmy Garoppolo is gone in 2021

San Francisco 49ers quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo (10) Mandatory Credit: San Francisco 49ers/Pool Photo via USA TODAY Network
San Francisco 49ers quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo (10) Mandatory Credit: San Francisco 49ers/Pool Photo via USA TODAY Network /

Kyle Shanahan has said he expects Jimmy Garoppolo to be the SF 49ers quarterback in 2021, but there’s even more evidence why this won’t be the case.

Quarterback controversies are nothing new to SF 49ers fans, some of the best ones dating back to the days of Joe Montana and Steve Young, then transitioning through names like Jeff Garcia, Alex Smith, Colin Kaepernick, Nate Davis (remember him?) and now including Jimmy Garoppolo.

Garoppolo’s future beyond this season remains in doubt. With no shortage of speculation surrounding whether or not head coach Kyle Shanahan wants to commit to him beyond this season, there’s a real chance 2020 marks the final year in which Jimmy G dons a Niners uniform.

And considering he’s missed all but six of 10 games this year with high-ankle sprains, it’s quite a shame if that were to be the case.

Yet Shanahan seemed to speak otherwise, telling reporters the following in a recent presser (h/t 49ers Webzone):

"I expect Jimmy to be our starter next year. I mean, I expect him to come play with us this year (after he recovers from his ankle injury). We have six games left. We are not out of the playoffs yet. I’ve been on a team that was 3-6 going into a bye week that ended up winning their division.I think we have guys on this team capable of finishing this the right way. We’ve got to do it one game at a time, and I hope Jimmy can come back and be a part of that. But to think that we’ve made any decisions on anybody going into the future isn’t the case.Jimmy’s won a lot of games for us this year. It’s a lot harder to win games when he’s not here, and I’m just hoping we can get him back."

It’s possible to pick apart Shanahan’s comments, and there’s even a suggestion he contradicts himself somewhat. For starters, the opening statement he expects “Jimmy to be our starter next year” doesn’t totally jive with the latter part where Shanahan says there haven’t been “any decisions on anybody going into the future.”

Let’s not read too deeply into that, though. Shanahan will assuredly receive plenty more questions from the press on Garoppolo’s future.

Instead, it’s the actions or non-actions on Garoppolo that speak measures about his future with the SF 49ers.

SF 49ers’ inaction on Jimmy Garoppolo’s contract is telling

When the Niners inked Garoppolo to a five-year, $137.5 million contract entering 2018, the deal essentially committed the team to the quarterback for three years, the final two of the contract having zero in guaranteed money. This is yet another example of the shrewd, team-friendly kind of deals San Francisco is known for making.

Evaluating the contract is nothing new. The SF 49ers can get out from underneath Garoppolo next offseason, either via a straight cut or a trade (Garoppolo would have to waive his no-trade clause in 2021, which basically means he’d have to want to go to the destination where he’d be traded), which would generate $24.1 million in cap savings out of the $26.9 million scheduled to be paid to him.

But that’s not the evidence suggesting the Niners are going to move on from their quarterback in 2021.

Back in February, Niner Noise spoke with Niners Nation/Over the Cap’s Jason Hurley about how San Francisco could create some much-needed cap space this season — a reality that has become even more a necessity with the 2021 salary cap expected to drop as low as $175 million in light of the global pandemic.

Here’s what the SF 49ers could have done:

"[A] restructure for Jimmy G would include three-plus voidable years, which would lower the base salary down to $820,000. His prorated signing bonus, currently at an annual average of $1.4 million, would be averaged out over those voidable years. Or an extension, should that be the course taken.Doing so would free up $19 million in 2020."

This would have freed up some much-needed financial resources this season at the expense of committing more money to Garoppolo over those three-plus voidable years.

The piece of evidence? The Niners didn’t do this.

It’s pretty telling, considering San Francisco has a league-low $2.15 million in cap space in 2020, according to Over the Cap, a plethora of high-profile pending free agents set to hit the open market next season and the need to carry over as much cap room as possible to make both the lowered salary cap, potential re-sign deals and other player extensions as workable as possible.

Of course, the non-action for a restructure on Garoppolo’s contract merely could have been intended to allow the SF 49ers more options when it comes to evaluating the quarterback’s future with the team in light of the greater context.

Next. 5 likely destinations for Jimmy Garoppolo if 49ers move on. dark

But considering there was no movement to free up cap room by committing to Garoppolo for a longer period of time is awfully telling about his immediate future.