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SANTA CLARA, California – To the surprise of many, perhaps even some of them within the walls of the team headquarters, Jimmy Garoppolo is still a member of the San Francisco 49ers.
The first week of the new league year has come and gone and the Niners have yet to find a receiver for Garoppolo in the trading market. As the game of quarterback musical chairs continues, the number of open seats has dropped significantly and the final tunes are being played.
All of this raises a big question: Why have the Niners not been able to handle Garoppolo?
Too many other dominoes
After the 49ers dropped to the Los Angeles Rams in the NFC Championship Game, general manager John Lynch and coach Kyle Shanahan played mostly boring about Garoppolo’s future, but it was clear from Garoppolo’s own press conference that he thought his days as a Niner were almost over. past. . Garoppolo offered an emotional goodbye and acknowledged that he and Lynch were discussing trade destinations.
The hope for both parties was that Garoppolo would be one of the best quarterbacks available in a market filled with teams in need. For a moment, at least, it seemed like it was going to happen. Tom Brady retired from the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Aaron Rodgers and Russell Wilson appeared to be living in Green Bay and Seattle, respectively. No one knew what to do with Deshaun Watson’s pending legal issues.
That all changed when Brady announced he wanted to come back, becoming the domino that set off a wild game of quarterback movement. Shortly after, Wilson was traded to Denver, a double down for the Niners. It removed the Broncos as a potential suitor and left a quarterback vacuum on division rival Seattle Seahawks a team 49ers would prefer not to trade with.
The news got worse for the 49ers as the Washington Commanders swapped a couple of third-round picks for the Indianapolis Colts for Carson Wentz, not a small part because of Garoppolo’s pending operation on the right shoulder.
When a Harris County grand jury refused to prosecute Watson on charges of sexual abuse, he was immediately subject to the wishes of the remaining QB-focused teams. Watson’s switch to the Cleveland Browns tipped over even more unforeseen dominoes, leading to Jameis Winston’s return to the New Orleans Saints, Matt Ryan’s switch to the Colts and Marcus Mariota’s signing with the Atlanta Falcons.
As it turns out, the Browns are looking for a home for Baker Mayfield with the Carolina Panthers and Seattle as the two most logical landing spots left for him and Garoppolo.
It has always made sense that teams that need quarterback help want to pursue bigger and better opportunities than Garoppolo. Few, however, could have foreseen that so many would be available.
Shoulder surgery garden
Even if the 49ers had found deals for Garoppolo in February, for example, news of his right shoulder surgery and inability to throw until early July would have thrown a wrench into any deal. Trades agreed at the time could not be made official until March 16, and trades also require physical features, which Garoppolo probably would not have passed. The reset button could easily have come into play on any agreed pact.
Garoppolo’s shoulder injury means he would likely miss the entire offseason program for a new team, no small feat for a quarterback learning a new system. That’s something that worried the Colts and at least one other interested team.
The shoulder operation also added to a long list of injuries on Garoppolo’s CV. A big part of the reason the Niners move on from him is his inability to consistently stay on the field.
It’s also the chance that the Niners took by hanging on to Garoppolo, starting him throughout the season and hoping he could re-establish his trade value. He almost made it, but his most recent injury happened at the worst possible time for a trade to come together.
‘By his ceiling’
Of course, there are footballing reasons why a deal for Garoppolo has not been reached. Several sources outside the organization wondered if Garoppolo is already “at his ceiling” and suggested that it would make it difficult to get a suitable production elsewhere to move away from a good situation with Shanahan designing and calling the pieces and the talent around him.
Since Garoppolo does not rise to the level of a Wilson or Watson, it is understandable why a team would be reluctant to give up much in compensation and salary (about $ 25 million for an acquiring team) for a player who may not be more than one annual placeholder.
That’s why when combined with the shoulder injury, a team like the Pittsburgh Steelers would rather throw the dice upside down with a younger, cheaper and more athletic player in Mitch Trubisky.
The Niners could still find a trading partner for Garoppolo, but when and for what are increasingly difficult questions to answer. Hanging on to him for now is possible and will provide some financial benefit as he has to have a $ 7.5 million damage guarantee. On the field, it would technically not disrupt the transition to Trey Lance to keep Garoppolo, as Garoppolo is still unable to participate in the offseason program, leaving Lance to get the starters.
Ultimately, though, something needs to change. It’s hard to imagine a scenario where Garoppolo is back to his current price tag, though it’s an option to keep him to get more certainty about Lance’s progress.
Releasing Garoppolo would save about $ 18 million with the other $ 7.5 million to come back when he signs with another team for up to that amount. It’s a result that seems unlikely, at least right now, as things can change elsewhere with damage or draft plans or both. However, it can not be ruled out further down.
One way or another, it seems that more patience is required before a solution is found.