SF 49ers: Who will be the starting quarterback in 2021?

San Francisco 49ers quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo (10) Mandatory Credit: Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports
San Francisco 49ers quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo (10) Mandatory Credit: Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports /
1 of 6
SF 49ers
San Francisco 49ers quarterbacks Wilton Speight (5), Nick Mullens (4) and C.J. Beathard (3) watch Jimmy Garoppolo (10) Mandatory Credit: Stan Szeto-USA TODAY Sports /

The SF 49ers face an uncertain future at quarterback in 2021 especially with the idea Jimmy Garoppolo could be out after this season.

There’s a very real chance the SF 49ers move on from their starting quarterback the last two-plus years, Jimmy Garoppolo, this offseason.

Questions about his durability, magnified by him missing all but six games in 2020, as well as his fit within head coach Kyle Shanahan’s offense — more or less Jimmy G’s inability to magnify it — have followed the Niners all season long.

So has the fact San Francisco isn’t exactly overloaded with cap space. Garoppolo making up to $26.6 million in 2021, and with the SF 49ers having 40 pending free agents, could make a move away from him a business decision over anything else.

If that happens, though, what are the Niners’ other options under center? And is there a chance they retain Garoppolo next season?

Speaking of chances, let’s have a fun exercise and explore the percent possibilities for candidates who could wind up being San Francisco’s starter in 2021.

Starting with the current on-roster options.

SF 49ers Option No. 1: The Incumbent(s) — Jimmy Garoppolo (50%), Nick Mullens (2%), CJ Beathard (1%)

A 50-50 shot for Garoppolo returning sounds reasonable for the pro and con camps. On one hand, there may not be another option out there in 2021 who is a clear-cut upgrade over Jimmy G. At least not someone who’s readily available.

On the other, moving on from Garoppolo saves $24.1 million in much-needed cap space, which could then be used to lock up a sizable portion of the roster while potentially seeking either an NFL Draft prospect or cheaper low-budget QB during the offseason.

The latter move opens up the possibility of Garoppolo’s backups, Nick Mullens and C.J. Beathard, somehow returning in 2021. Either as stopgap options or to round out the depth chart.

Both are free agents, Mullens the restricted variety.