Option No. 3: Jimmy Garoppolo stays with 49ers… as a backup
No, this isn’t as far-fetched as you might think. In fact, the longer Jimmy Garoppolo remains on the 49ers roster, the greater the chance he winds up staying put into 2022.
A caveat, though. The Niners certainly wouldn’t make Garoppolo a $27 million backup to Trey Lance. Not a chance of that happening at all, and they’d surely push him towards taking a pay cut to drop down to No. 2 on the depth chart.
Would Garoppolo entertain this? On the surface, no. But it might be in his best long-term interests to be patient.
NBC Sports Bay Area’s Matt Maiocco elaborated further on this possibility:
"Ultimately, [Garoppolo] might decide his best chance of setting himself up for a starting role in 2023 is to return to the 49ers as a supportive teammate and remain ready for any opportunity to get his number called this year. [Marcus] Mariota did not start a game the past two seasons with the Raiders. [Mitchell] Trubisky sat behind Josh Allen for his one season with Buffalo. Likewise, Garoppolo might discover taking a backup role for one season is his most logical path toward working his way back into a starting role."
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In reference to both Mariota and Trubisky, two former top-five NFL Draft picks who were longtime starters, both quarterbacks accepted backup duties before signing new contracts with the Atlanta Falcons and Pittsburgh Steelers, respectively, to be their presumptive starters in 2022.
Maybe that’s the cold hard reality Garoppolo has to accept, too, realizing his best shot at reclaiming a full-time starting role is to defer to Lance in 2022 and then hope for better opportunities the following year.