Jimmy Garoppolo’s future with 49ers has an end date

San Francisco 49ers quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo (10) Credit: Joe Nicholson-USA TODAY Sports
San Francisco 49ers quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo (10) Credit: Joe Nicholson-USA TODAY Sports /

The 49ers made a blockbuster trade, trading up to secure the No. 3 overall pick in the 2021 NFL Draft. What does this mean for Jimmy Garoppolo?

In possibly the biggest spit-take moment of the year so far for fans of the San Francisco 49ers, ESPN’s Adam Schefter tweeted out that the Niners are making a big splash to shake up the top of the 2021 NFL Draft.

General manager John Lynch and Co. are sending off a package to the Miami Dolphins for the rights to the No. 3 overall pick in this April’s draft.

Talk about a game-changer.

While Schefter would later note that sources were saying the third-round pick in question would actually be in 2022 and not 2021, it’s still a solid haul for the Dolphins, who would then turn around and trade back into the top six via a move with the Philadelphia Eagles.

The ultimate question, of course, is what the 49ers want to do with this pick, and the only logical answer is they have their eye on one of the top quarterbacks not named Clemson’s Trevor Lawrence. The timing of the move would suggest the Niners are comfortable with more than one of the options, be it BYU’s Zach Wilson, Ohio State’s Justin Fields, or maybe even North Dakota State’s Trey Lance.

General manager John Lynch’s presence at Wilson’s pro day in Utah today proved to be the smoke to the fire for the trade, which happened only hours after Lynch was confirmed as being there.

So if “quarterback” is the answer to the ultimate question, then that brings up the second query: what will become of current 49ers starter Jimmy Garoppolo, both in terms of 2021 and beyond?

Jimmy Garoppolo staying with 49ers for one more year?

Schefter and others have indicated San Francisco isn’t planning on shipping Garoppolo out at the moment, something that seems to jive with head coach Kyle Shanahan’s modus operandi, since his notoriously complicated offense will be made even more difficult by what could be yet another virtual-heavy offseason.

So it’s likely Shanahan will want Garoppolo around to start this season and allow whoever the new quarterback is to learn the system and serve as the backup. Much like the Kansas City Chiefs did with Alex Smith and Patrick Mahomes back in2017, Garoppolo can also re-establish himself as a quality starter in the league and boost his trade potential, something good for both he and the 49ers moving forward.

Garoppolo’s contract makes all this movement possible, even if some team comes to the 49ers with a godfather offer and the team feels compelled to move on from him a year early.

According to Over the Cap, if the Niners trade the quarterback before June 1 this year, they’d save $23.6 million in cap room while taking on just $2.8 million in dead money. If they waited and traded him after June 1, the cap savings rise to $25 million and the dead money falls to just $1.4 million.

So even if the Niners prefer to keep him as the starter for 2021, it doesn’t mean they have to because of negative cap implications. If anything, the opposite is true.

But if the likelier event — Garoppolo staying through this season before the reins are handed over to Wilson, Fields, or Lance — happens, the cap repercussions are more or less the same. Trading him before June 1 will amount to $25.6 million in savings and $1.4 million in dead money, while a post-June 1 trade (the unlikeliest of all the scenarios) is the same.

Garoppolo has been a solid starter when he’s been healthy and in a 49ers offense set up to make the most of his skill set, but the front office and coach staff have clearly decided that they want a younger option at the position who can be their guy for hopefully a decade or more.

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Shanahan has never had an elite quarterback to work with in San Francisco, and now he’s arguably going to be able to get one. And it’s all but set in stone, be it this offseason or next, that Jimmy Garoppolo’s time in red and gold has an end date.