QB change may not involve Jimmy Garoppolo


The 49ers’ organization’s public confidence in quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo makes it more difficult to determine how they can conduct themselves in an unusually active quarterback market. While trade demand for Deshaun Watson has put a pot of gold at the end of the Rainbow and other veteran quarterbacks on teams looking to turn the page at this position, the San Francisco moves under center this year might be less dramatic than shipping Garoppolo in favor of a new starter.

Head coach Kyle Shanahan at his end-of-season press conference told reporters he believes Garoppolo is part of the team’s core.

“Yes, I want Jimmy to come back to our hearts. Fortunately he is not a free agent, ”said Shanahan.

It was in line with what he said after the team’s Week 16 win over the Cardinals when asked about Garoppolo’s future, saying he expected Garoppolo to be the starter. , but the team wouldn’t pass on an obvious upgrade.

“Now you look down every avenue and you see if there’s anything there that can make you a lot better, it’s the same answer for every position,” Shanahan said in late December. “But look at Jimmy, look at what he’s done, look where he’s at with us financially and we better have a really good answer if you’re going to come up with anything better than that, because Jimmy showed up in one.” year that he was a guy who can take us to the Super Bowl and I also think Jimmy is going to get a lot better as he plays.

Looks like the 49ers are content to roll Garoppolo, keep their draft picks and improve on a roster that is set to lose a number of players in a year where the salary cap could become a barrier to agent retention. free keys. A Watson exchange might throw a wrench into those shots, but let’s assume for a moment that it’s not on the table.

Just because Garoppolo could return as a starter in 2021 doesn’t mean that there aren’t any quarterback moves to be made. San Francisco struggled last season when substitutes Nick Mullens and CJ Beathard played, and both are set to hit the free agent market in the offseason. Mullens is limited, while Beathard is due for unrestricted free agency.

Shanahan was more open to the possibility of making changes to the backup quarterback position for the first time since 2017.

“So you have to watch everything when trying to fill a quarterback roster,” Shanahan said. “We have a starting quarterback, but to know where these guys are going to be we either have to re-sign the guys we have or see if we can improve them through the draft or free agency. To do that you have to evaluate everything, so you know how to stack them and everything. So we’re definitely going to be watching a lot more stuff this year than we did last year.

This is where things get particularly interesting for the 49ers. The replacement quarterback is a particularly important place on their roster given Garoppolo’s injury history. He missed 23 of the team’s last 48 regular season games. Partly because of those injuries, he has yet to establish himself as the team’s long-term response under center.

The risk of being left without their starting quarterback in the middle of a playoff window is too high for the 49ers to simply fill the quarterback roster with cheap save options. Additionally, if Garoppolo doesn’t answer some of the lingering questions about his ability to properly lead the 49ers’ offense consistently, they need to start exploring options for life after Garoppolo.

Finding solutions to these two biggest quarterback problems is more urgent for San Francisco than moving from Garoppolo.

They have the No.12 pick and enough capital to move up the table for a player in this year’s draft class who could solve the save QB and long-term QB issue at the same time.

Or they could draft a quarterback and go after a free agent like Jacoby Brissett or Ryan Fitzpatrick in an effort to immediately improve the QB2 spot. Neither Fitzpatrick, Brissett, nor any affordable free agent quarterback will take the 49ers to a Super Bowl, but they would be able to win games if Garoppolo were unavailable for an extended period.

The exact moves and choices can be debated, but the overall point is that the 49ers quarterback’s room will likely be very different last season, even if they don’t leave Garoppolo. In fact, bolstering the depth chart behind Garoppolo is probably a higher priority than setting up a trade for a new starter.

Given how little the 49ers were willing to put on the table in Matthew Stafford’s trade talks – one report said they did not make a formal offer once the first-round picks were on the table – it’s hard to imagine outside of Watson that they become heavily involved with other potentially available veteran signal callers.

The planned changes will come to the 49ers quarterback room this offseason, but that won’t take Garoppolo’s ticket out of the Bay Area.

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