The SF 49ers could move on from Jimmy Garoppolo in 2021. If they don’t, the Niners would still be wise to find some quarterback competition.
Maybe. It’s possible. Head coach Kyle Shanahan and general manager John Lynch have repeatedly said as much despite the fact Jimmy G has missed sizable chunks of time since signing his then-record-setting five-year, $137.5 million contract back in 2018.
Yet it’s also possible Shanahan and Lynch elect to move on, saving $24.1 million in cap space while looking at other options to potentially bring the Niners offense into levels not yet seen with Shanahan at the helm of the franchise.
Assuming Garoppolo stays, however, San Francisco would be wise to bring in some competition to push him.
No, nothing like the level of quarterbacks Jimmy G practiced with from late in 2017 until the present date. Not to mock or ridicule his backups, Nick Mullens and C.J. Beathard. But neither of those two names exactly threatened Garoppolo’s hold on the No. 1 status from 2018 through the present day. Only injuries relegated Garoppolo to the back end of the roster, giving both Mullens and Beathard time under center in meaningful situations.
Yet that should change in 2021.
For context, Garoppolo was essentially handed the starter’s role after a brief acclimation period following his late-2017 trade to the SF 49ers from the New England Patriots. Neither Mullens nor Beathard was legitimately going to challenge him for the top spot on the depth chart. No, they were both battling it out for the right to back Jimmy G up.
Interestingly enough, both backup quarterbacks are scheduled to hit free agency this offseason, Beathard as an unrestricted free agent and Mullens of the restricted variety. It’s entirely possible the Niners bid farewell to both signal-callers this offseason.
Regardless of your thoughts on Garoppolo, he could benefit from some real competition during training camp and into the regular season. It’s the kind of competition he hasn’t had since his days with the Pats when he was quarterback Tom Brady‘s understudy.
Considering San Francisco could easily ask the same question about Garoppolo’s future a year from now, assuming he sticks around for one more season, as a would-be 2022 cut or trade would generate $25.6 million in cap space, that competition would at least afford the SF 49ers an extra period of time to truly evaluate whether or not Jimmy G is their guy moving forward.
Exactly how the Niners add some competition for Garoppolo this offseason remains to be seen.
If San Francisco brought in a truly established starting-caliber option, let’s say the Dallas Cowboys’ soon-to-be free-agent Dak Prescott or Houston Texans quarterback Deshaun Watson, Garoppolo’s future won’t be with the SF 49ers.
But a potential reclamation project, perhaps someone like the NY Jets’ Sam Darnold or even the Niners’ own, Josh Rosen, could be a pusher of sorts.
And if San Francisco uses one of its first two picks in the 2021 NFL Draft on a quarterback, that’s a pretty good indicator Shanahan and Lynch want to push Garoppolo, too, if he remains on the roster thereafter.
Either way, Garoppolo could benefit from having some actual competition on the depth chart.
As long as he remains with the franchise, of course.