49ers: Why Jimmy Garoppolo isn’t taking Aaron Rodgers’ approach
By Peter Panacy
Both the 49ers’ Jimmy Garoppolo and the Packers’ Aaron Rodgers have young quarterbacks looking up at them, but Jimmy G is handling things differently. Why?
The San Francisco 49ers and Green Bay Packers are both looking at potential blockbuster transitions from veteran quarterbacks to up-and-coming young signal-callers in the not-so-distant future.
And the context behind the two veteran quarterbacks couldn’t be more different.
Future Hall of Famer Aaron Rodgers‘ situation in Green Bay has dissolved to the point where he wants out. In many ways, the Packers front office created this mess by refusing to assist Rodgers with pass-catching talent early in the NFL Draft the past few years, and then the 2020 first-round selection of Utah State quarterback Jordan Love didn’t make the relationship between Rodgers and the Packers any better.
This has led to all that trade speculation in light of Rodgers apparently wanting out sooner than later, potentially threatening to sit out the upcoming season.
Niners quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo, too, was upset with his team moving up to No. 3 overall in this year’s NFL Draft to grab North Dakota State’s Trey Lance.
Yet Garoppolo has also seemingly embraced the idea of serving as a mentor to the rookie quarterback, who isn’t pegged to start right away this season anyway.
You can check out Jimmy G’s thoughts on the subject in his interview with FanSided in the video below:
Why the difference, though? How is it Rodgers adamantly wants out whereas Garoppolo is willing to embrace the “lame duck” moniker until Lance is ready?
Well, there are a number of key factors at play here that help to understand the contrast, and it’s not just any personality traits between the two veteran quarterbacks.
49ers are paying Jimmy Garoppolo more than anyone else would
Let’s put this bluntly: Jimmy G has $26.4 million reasons to stay with San Francisco rather than force a trade this year.
In light of Garoppolo suffering two critical injuries the last three years — a torn ACL in 2018 and a high-ankle sprain in 2020 — it’s more than safe to say he wouldn’t come close to getting that kind of money on the open market. Even if he was to be traded, any suitor of a team would be pushing to renegotiate or restructure Garoppolo’s deal, almost assuredly cutting into the amount of money he’d make in 2021 and beyond.
The 49ers know this. Garoppolo probably understands this, too. Yet the Niners are currently willing and able to absorb his cap hit this season, hoping he can resurrect his 2019 efforts that nearly netted 4,000 yards passing.
Hot Read: 49ers won’t be quick to trade Jimmy G after drafting Trey Lance
Rodgers, with his $37.2 million cap hit in 2021, knows his own value far exceeds that of Garoppolo. It’s not even close. Green Bay’s quarterback could easily transform any scuffling team willing to trade for him into a playoff contender. Simply put, he’s worth it.
Exactly why the Packers haven’t embraced this is unclear. The lack of effort to surround Rodgers with weapons is disconcerting. So was the move to acquire Love. And even though there’s an argument why it made sense, it sure seems as if Green Bay didn’t handle things with its top pick in the 2020 draft the right way in light of Rodgers’ presence.
Jimmy G has to understand a 49ers controversy won’t help his value elsewhere
Rodgers is too damned good to worry about whether or not any sort of controversy with the Packers front office will damage his reputation around the league. If you’re an elite winner, that’s all that matters.
The same can’t be said of Garoppolo.
Even though San Francisco’s general manager, John Lynch, apparently handled the situation with Garoppolo and Lance the right way, as shown by the comments below to Fox Sports’ Colin Cowherd (h/t 49ers Webzone), Garoppolo could have shown massive frustrations to the point of demanding a trade anyway:
"I think Jimmy’s got a really good trust in myself and Kyle [Shanahan]. I think you earn that, and I think from day one, we’ve been very upfront with Jimmy. When I went to Jimmy, I told him the truth. Like, “Look, we have made a decision that we’re going to pursue a quarterback this offseason. You know, Jimmy, when you’ve played, you’ve been tremendous, and the record speaks to that. We feel like there’s room for growth. The biggest thing has been it’s hard to keep you on the field.”"
Garoppolo fully knows his time with the 49ers is finite. And unlike Rodgers, coming off a league MVP award and boasting a Hall of Fame pedigree, a controversy with the Niners’ front office in the wake of trade demands would do little to bolster Jimmy G’s value elsewhere.
Another blunt way of looking at this: Rodgers has earned the right to force himself out, whereas Garoppolo hasn’t.
Instead, it’s in Jimmy G’s best interest to stay and serve as that quality mentor to Lance.