This NFL off-season has been loaded with the movement of quarterbacks around the league, and the speculation of who might be going where. Since the regular season concluded, it was painfully obvious that there were many teams in need of a signal-caller. The New England Patriots were one being rumored to be in the market. Their “Plan A” was 49ers quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo.
Garoppolo isn’t unfamiliar to the Pats. He was drafted by Bill Belichick in the second round of the 2014 NFL Draft. Suspected to be the heir apparent to then three-time Super Bowl champion Tom Brady, Garoppolo didn’t start right away. Jimmy G didn’t get to see his first start until he was two seasons into his NFL career while Tom Brady was suspended for the deflate-gate debacle. He started the first two weeks of the 2016-17 season going 2-0 and throwing for 502 yards and four touchdowns before getting injured in week two against the Dolphins.
Moving to San Francisco
The next season Garoppolo would be traded to San Francisco for a second-round pick. Tom Brady had shown no signs of slowing down at age 40. It forced Belichick’s hand to move off the heir apparent, giving the 49ers one hell of a deal. In his first five starts in San Francisco, he led them to five straight wins.
Jimmy Garoppolo was instantly a fan favorite in the bay area signing a five-year, $137.5M contract. He would suffer a torn ACL early in the 2018 season, and then play a pretty solid year in 2019. He led the 49ers to a 13-3 campaign and an NFC Championship victory. Unfortunately for them, the 49ers would blow a 20-10 lead in Super Bowl 54 giving the Kansas City Chiefs their first Super Bowl victory in 50 years.
In 2020 the 49ers would open up as favorites to win the NFC West again. But they were plagued with injuries. All-Pro tight end George Kittle would injure his leg in week one, then fracture his foot in the latter part of the season. Pass rushers Nick Bosa and Solomon Thomas would both suffer torn ACLs in week two against the Jets. Running back Raheem Mostert would sprain his ankle in the same week two matchup, as would Garoppolo. The 28-year-old old quarterback would suffer two high ankle sprains in 2020, almost requiring surgical repair. The 49ers would finish at the bottom of their division at 6-10, and an off-season full of decisions to make.
Where It Stands Today
Now that we’ve gone over the history, let me discuss why we’re all here. It’s painfully obvious the 49ers and Garoppolo are in a bad place. Despite whatever general manager John Lynch might say about their confidence in Jimmy G, there’s a blatant disconnect. Head coach Kyle Shanahan has been pretty un-enthused when talking about Garoppolo. He says “I do believe Jimmy will be our QB next year…” but immediately follows that up with “you can’t say anything with certainty in this league”. As true as that might be, don’t you think it’d just be easier to get behind Lynch’s adamant confidence?
There’s an obvious difference of opinion between Lynch and Shanahan about the confidence in their quarterback. At some point, you have to choose between the coach and the quarterback if this continues. I’m as big of a Garoppolo fan as anybody, but the 49ers would have been wise to send Jimmy G to a place where he is genuinely wanted, like the Patriots. An offense needs a signal-caller that the head coach adamantly believes in. This doesn’t seem to be the case with Shanahan and Garoppolo. This will eventually cause dysfunction.
Will the 49ers Make a Move?
The 49ers are in an excellent position at pick 12 to make a run at one of the top quarterbacks in this Draft. There are certainly more financially wise options at quarterback if you wanted a mentor and no more. The 49ers may have missed their out with the Patriots as they’ve re-upped Cam Newton for at least one more season. Though it doesn’t seem like a quarterback move is in the plans for the 49ers this off-season. They’ve bolstered the offensive line by extending tackle Trent Williams and signing veteran free-agent center Alex Mack from the Falcons.
Jimmy Garoppolo is obviously a favorite amongst the locker room. George Kittle has been one of Garoppolo’s biggest advocates since the beginning, calling him “Everything you want in a franchise quarterback”. Following their Super Bowl loss, cornerback Richard Sherman called the criticism of Garoppolo “foolish” and “just barbershop talk”. The coach isn’t as committed. It would have been wise to just rip the band-aid off and move Garoppolo when the Patriots came calling. But for now, it seems as though the 49ers are going to let Jimmy G try to win Kyle Shanahan’s confidence back. Let’s hope for Garoppolo’s sake, he does exactly that. In a division surrounded by Russell Wilson, Matthew Stafford, and Kyler Murray, Garoppolo has his work made out for him. Though if he has any bit of Tom Brady in him after his start in New England, Jimmy G will rise to the challenge.
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