The San Francisco 49ers have a lot of talent.
From Deebo Samuel to George Kittle to Trent Williams to Nick Bosa to Fred Warner, 49 people have All-Pro talent around the world.
They have one of the most insightful and talented teams in the entire NFL – the core team that got them to the NFC Championship game six months ago and to a Super Bowl just over two years ago.
It’s a team led by offensive master Kyle Shanahan, one that looks ready and ready to do one more deep run in NFC – well, almost ready.
The 49ers have one key question heading into this season and, unfortunately for them, that is the most important position on the field.
Less than five years ago, the 49ers gave the second-round pick to the New England Patriots to reserve Tom Brady.
They picked up Jimmy Garoppolo, a 25-year-old from Eastern Illinois with just two of his career starts. He hit just 94 passes, 690 passes and five touchdowns in his limited appearances.
But the 49ers feel like they’ve seen enough. They have struggled to find a reliable signal caller since Colin Kaepernick’s early seasons and need to find one to take their talented roster to the next level.
Spoiler alert: It worked.
During Garoppolo’s first season in 2017 – the year he was traded – he sat on the bench and studied the books as his team faltered. It wasn’t until his injury in Week 12 that Garoppolo came into the limelight as a starter. The team’s score was 1-10 when he came out in Week 13 in his first game in a 49ers uniform. They ended that season 6-10.
Garoppolo’s next season was cut short due to a torn ACL, and the team struggled.
In 2019, a healthy Garoppolo led the team to its first Super Bowl since 2013 and was minutes away from winning its sixth title in franchise history.
In 2020, injuries hit him and the rest of the team, and once again, they struggled. And in 2021, fit again, he led them to a surprise NFC championship appearance, narrowly losing to the Rams in the last minutes – and that was after the team traded and picked a final substitute. his in Trey Lance in the 2021 draft, putting all the pressure in the world on Garoppolo to execute.
At least it’s been a wild ride for Garoppolo in San Francisco. He’s unashamedly a savior for the franchise, returning them to their status as a powerhouse in NFC. But all good things must come to an end, and that time has officially arrived.
When the 49ers picked Lance, the writing on the wall was for Garoppolo. Shanahan and 49ers GM John Lynch decided that young and inexperienced Lance, who played only one full season at North Dakota State, would sit back and learn during his first year in the NFL. Those years come and go, and now it’s time for Lance to take over.
Lance has a dual threat ability that makes scouts salivate when intent on placing him in Shanahan’s offense. He has great football instincts, a cannon for an arm (conflicting reports are false; just watch the tape), and was only 20 years old when the team traded multiple picks in the first leg to get him. It’s a project for sure, but one of the things the 49ers feel is the missing piece to take this team from Super Bowl contender to Super Bowl champion.
There’s only one problem: Garoppolo is still on the list.
It’s no secret that the 49ers want to trade Garoppolo heading into this season. And it is expected that he will be one of the top full-backs in the market, given the weak rookie class and lack of talent in the commercial market. But then Garoppolo had shoulder surgery and has been stuck on the 49ers’ roster ever since.
Opening next season with Garoppolo on the roster will be a disaster for Shanahan and the 49ers. They had to do what they could to unload him and his nearly $27 million cap, while also proving to Lance that they had complete confidence in him when the starters reached Week 1.
So here’s how they can do it:
If Deshaun Watson is suspended for a significant amount of time (especially if it’s an entire season), the Cleveland Browns would be a perfect landing spot for the 49ers’ quarterback. Garoppolo, who has a contract at the end of this season, would be the ideal rental quarterback right now for the Browns as they await Watson’s potential return. He will keep them alive in the talented AFC North, and shouldn’t cost more than one mid-round pick at this stage of the season. According to the NFLPA, the Browns were the only team that could receive Jimmy G’s salary.
If Watson is not suspended, the 49ers could switch to a familiar situation for their quarterback. Tom Brady retired and then retired this season, and has no long-term commitment beyond this season. He is said to have a 10-year, $375 million deal awaiting him from Fox Sports and could be ready to step into that role as soon as 2023. The Buccaneers will then be left to somewhat of that role. start over, even though their lineup won’t benefitw mode. A sale for Garoppolo would prove incredible foresight from the Bucs, as he could take a year to learn the playbook and will be set to become the team’s future quarterback when Brady calls it out.
Then there’s the Seattle Seahawks. A team that has had the number 49 jersey for the past few years – a tiered opponent who has won 14 of their last 16 games and hasn’t lost a season streak since 2011. Will the 49ers really help the Seahawks be as good as they are? so didn’t they trade franchise midfielder Russell Wilson last season? The answer is probably no, but if the 49ers want to lift Garoppolo, especially if Watson isn’t suspended for long, it’s likely they’ll complete a deal. (Plus, he’ll be an upgrade over Geno Smith/Drew Lock).
One final and somewhat interesting proposition is the Miami Dolphins. The Dolphins won’t make any moves until the trading deadline, so that would eliminate the idea of getting rid of this Garoppolo listing before Week 1. But what if Tagovailoa struggles – it’s a real possibility given the path his career has begun – the new Dolphins head coach Mike McDaniel, the 49ers’ former offensive coordinator, might want to bring in someone with which he is familiar. The Dolphins have done a fair bit this season, and put together a squad they feel are ready to compete in the AFC right now. Tagovailoa should have a relatively short streak, and could lose his job at the start of this season if he doesn’t play much, much better. Miami is definitely a destination worth keeping an eye on if Garoppolo is still on the list of 49ers opening the season.
It will be an exciting few weeks (and possibly months) for the 49ers, but one thing is for sure.
Trey Lance should definitely be their starter in Week 1, and if they can help with that, they won’t let anyone sigh on his neck.
So allow me to officially welcome you to the Trey Lance era. 49ers is his team now.