Jimmy Garoppolo: The one trade scenario 49ers are holding out for

Jimmy Garoppolo #10 of the San Francisco 49ers (Photo by Katelyn Mulcahy/Getty Images)
Jimmy Garoppolo #10 of the San Francisco 49ers (Photo by Katelyn Mulcahy/Getty Images) /

The 49ers weren’t able to move Jimmy Garoppolo via trade at the start of the league new year, so they’re likely holding out for one more remote possibility.

Perhaps the San Francisco 49ers fielded some offers for quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo earlier this offseason, yet none were to their liking or were axed by Garoppolo’s camp (the Niners want to do right by him anyway).

Or, which is just as likely, no teams were legitimately interested in trading for a 30-year-old oft-injured and middle-of-the-road quarterback while having to take on $25.5 million in post-trade salary.

It’s also possible the whirlwind of unforeseen quarterback movement simply left Garoppolo and his team on the sidelines, too, with essentially no fault directed towards general manager John Lynch and Co.

Maybe it’s a little of each.

After a wild offseason quarterback carousel, the Niners are still stuck with Jimmy G and have seemingly run out of the bulk of their options. At this point, understanding fully well San Francisco will turn the reins over to second-year quarterback Trey Lance, the 49ers essentially have two realistic options:

  1. Simply cut Jimmy Garoppolo once he’s able to pass a physical in order to free up $25.5 million
  2. Hold out for another team to get desperate, then trade Jimmy Garoppolo then

Let’s prompt the latter suggestion here, and there’s a precedent for it.

How Vikings’ 2016 trade for Sam Bradford sets pattern for 49ers with Jimmy Garoppolo

Going back to the archives a bit, let’s revisit the 2016 Philadelphia Eagles who were in the wake of former head coach Chip Kelly (you might remember him) being fired and then trading up to the No. 2 overall spot in that year’s NFL Draft to grab quarterback Carson Wentz.

This made the Eagles’ previous starter, Sam Bradford, expendable. It’s not unlike what the Niners are dealing with between Garoppolo and Lance.

Bradford had been unimpressive the previous season under Kelly, and Wentz was going to be the guy in Philly anyway, at least at that time. With no trade market, though, Philadelphia had to wait for its options to develop.

They did.

On Aug. 30 that year, then-Minnesota Vikings quarterback Teddy Bridgewater suffered a serious knee injury, including an ACL tear, during practice that nearly ended his career. Bridgewater, a Pro Bowler who helped the Vikings go 11-5 the previous season, would miss the rest of the 2016 campaign and wouldn’t return until late in 2017 anyway. And with the Vikings considered legitimate playoff contenders at the time, they had to make a move.

As such, Minnesota traded a 2017 first-round draft pick and a 2018 conditional fourth-round draft pick for Philly’s castoff, Bradford.

49ers may have to hope another starting QB suffers an injury before moving Jimmy Garoppolo

No one wants to actively root for a player injury. But as tough as it is to admit, injuries do open up opportunities.

And in this case, as was the case with Bridgewater’s injury in 2016, a team with an excess starting quarterback can take advantage.

Read More: 49ers aren’t going to keep Jimmy Garoppolo for all of 2022

San Francisco, rightfully or not, is in no rush to clear Garoppolo’s cap hit right now. If it was, he would have been released outright by now. But there are the inevitable quarterback injuries that will take place between now and Week 1 of the regular season, taking into account all the activity during minicamps, OTAs, training camp and the preseason. Should a modestly contending team with a bona fide starter and no legitimate backup options suffer this kind of injury loss, suddenly Garoppolo becomes a more attractive commodity.

Does it guarantee something like this happens, though? Certainly not. It’s a wait-and-see approach the 49ers will have to take.

If it does happen, however, the Niners can hope they get the kind of return the Eagles received for Bradford back in 2016 when Minnesota was desperate.

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