With less than three weeks left before the start of the NFL regular season, the San Francisco 49ers have a decision to make, and a pretty big one at that.
They need to decide what to do with quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo – trade him, keep him or release him.
More and more people around the league expect the 49ers to simply release him, now that Trey Lance is starting under center and especially because they were unable to work out a trade for him.
But owner Jed York recently said the team would be “happy to keep Jimmy Garoppolo,” which has seemingly thrown a monkey wrench into what could be expected.
Adam Schefter, ESPN’s foremost NFL reporter and insider, said on ESPN’s “NFL Live” on Thursday the best scenario for the 49ers would be to keep Garoppolo.
“The 49ers are going to have to decide whether or not they are willing to keep — yes, keep — Jimmy Garoppolo,” said Schefter. “… It might just be that the best scenario is for both sides to work together to stay together for this year, so that the 49ers can have a capable No. 2 quarterback backing up Trey Lance.”
Yes, what Schefter outlined would be the best scenario for both parties.
But it is unclear whether Garoppolo would be OK with being a QB2 after being the Niners’ starter for the past five seasons.
It’s Good To Have Options
In his limited playing time during the preseason, Lance has shown promise, and while he may not have set the world on fire (at least not yet), there is reason to believe he, at the very least, won’t be any worse than Garoppolo.
On the other hand, the NFL is a grown man’s game, and in his first season as a full-time starter, Lance is sure to have his rough moments and growing pains, things every pro QB has gone through.
It should also be noted that Lance hasn’t played much organized football for someone his age, as he didn’t play much as a freshman at North Dakota State University and lost almost all of his junior season to the COVID-19 pandemic.
If Lance goes through a stretch where he is playing very poorly, or if he gets injured, Garoppolo would be the ideal insurance policy – if he’s OK with it.
Garoppolo may not be the man who will get you over the hump in a big championship-level game, but he is the man who will at least win a lot of games and get you to that big game.
Since joining the 49ers midway through the 2017 season, he has gone 31-14 as a starter and has led them to two NFC Championship Games and one Super Bowl appearance in the last three seasons.
With a career passer rating of 98.9, he could possibly become the best QB2 in the league.
Garoppolo Would Be A Short-Term QB2
If the Niners do keep Garoppolo, the good news, at least in terms of the salary cap, is that he has just one year left on his contract.
They are reportedly working on a contract extension for star pass rusher Nick Bosa, but they’re not in any real rush to do so, and Lynch has said that such an extension likely won’t come until next year anyway.
"As long as we're here, Nick Bosa is going to be a part of the Niners." -John Lynch pic.twitter.com/MG45BOgpEQ
— 49ers on NBCS (@NBCS49ers) July 26, 2022
If the Niners stick to that stance, perhaps keeping Garoppolo wouldn’t hinder a new contract for Bosa.
By then, perhaps Lance will have proven himself and he won’t need a proven QB2 such as Garoppolo in case something goes wrong.