The 49ers haven’t been able to trade Jimmy Garoppolo yet, and they may not be able to for a while. But, despite speculation, he’ll still be gone eventually.
Probably every San Francisco 49ers fan and analyst was probably thinking quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo would have been traded by now, well over a week after the start of the 2022 NFL new year.
After all, the offseason quarterback market wasn’t going to be a good one for teams in need of a signal-caller.
However, Garoppolo is still in a uniform, the Niners still on the hook for his near-$27 million due this upcoming season, and the rest of those quarterback-needy teams have almost all made their corresponding moves, none of which involved Jimmy G.
Whether or not San Francisco is to blame for this apparent debacle is another matter. But the fact Garoppolo is still part of the 49ers led some to believe he’ll stick around for the final year on his current contract, including NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport (h/t @OurSF49ers), who didn’t feel it unrealistic for the Niners to keep Garoppolo through 2022:
“The longer we go in this thing, and Jimmy G is still on the Niners, makes me think that they could keep him,” Rapoport said on the Pat McAfee Show. “I mean, he led them into the playoffs last year. I know it wasn’t perfect but would it be the craziest thing in the world to keep him and let Trey Lance learn for another year? I could think of worse outcomes for the 49ers.”
A worst-case outcome? No. But a realistic one? It’s a “no” there, too.
Why 49ers wouldn’t possibly keep Jimmy Garoppolo into 2022
The Niners may be forced to let the rest of the market play itself out, potentially hoping Garoppolo’s market increases again by the time of the NFL Draft this April or, in a worst-case scenario, in the wake of another team’s starting quarterback suffering a serious offseason injury of some sort.
As of now, San Francisco is willing to wait. That’s fine. Without a massive pressing need to be aggressive on the dwindling free-agent market, the $25.5 million that would be saved if Garoppolo was released right now isn’t money the 49ers need.
This is precisely what NBC Sports Bay Area’s Matt Maiocco argued shortly after the trade market on Garoppolo dried up:
"Under his current contract, it does not make much sense to retain Garoppolo. The strong argument can be made that Garoppolo means more to the composition of the roster — this season and into the future — by not being on the team. If a trade is impossible, it makes more sense to release him after he passes a physical and all trade options are exhausted. That way, his non-guaranteed $25 million can be redirected to other foundational players, such as Deebo Samuel and Nick Bosa, and the rising salaries in future seasons for such players as George Kittle, Trent Williams, Fred Warner and Arik Armstead.If the 49ers had that $25 million cushion right now, it would not change their approach to free agency. They spent for cornerback Charvarius Ward. He was their big-ticket item."
There’s another wrinkle in all of this, too, and it resides between Garoppolo and Lance, as well as the messy situation that existed for all of last year, wondering who should be QB1 and who should be QB2.
Garoppolo (mostly) held that job in 2021, which nevertheless resulted in controversy. With Lance entering year two of his professional career, the prospects for sitting on the bench another season would be exceptionally frustrating.
And all the chatter about “when will Lance finally start?” wouldn’t go away. Do the Niners want to embrace that and all the subsequent fallout for another full year?
San Francisco would still love to recoup something for Garoppolo, even if the market winds up being relatively dreadful. If it can’t, though, simply releasing Garoppolo outright would be the inevitable outcome.
In this case, money saved is much more important than an increasingly dwindling value from a draft pick in return.