49ers Mailbag – Is there a way for Jimmy Garoppolo to return in 2022?

The San Francisco 49ers 26-23 victory over Cincinnati has set the team up for a second playoff run under Kyle Shanahan. It just so happens that Shanahan’s second trip to the playoffs could come when Jimmy Garoppolo stays healthy. Coincidence?

When I requested comments for this week’s mailbag, it should come as no surprise that Garoppolo was one of the top names to pop up.

@ovinator – Jimmy Garoppolo requires a strong offensive line, but his salary does not allow big investments. Corners are also needed. Is there a way to build a working team around #10 with his salary?

San Francisco has just over $10 million in salary cap for 2022 with only 32 players under contract. With a cap hit of $27 million, it would take a restructuring of Garoppolo’s contract to make it feasible for the veteran quarterback to return.

With Trey Lance waiting in the wings to take over the starting role and given the amount of draft capital the organization used for that acquisition, it seems unlikely they would be interested in using future cap space on Garoppolo.

While moving on from Garoppolo makes sense financially, it may cost the team on the field depending on how Lance performs.

Garoppolo is 29-13 as a starter with San Francisco. Injuries derailed his season and the team in 2018 and 2020. If he can stay healthy and the team finishes the year out on their current path it will be two playoff appearances in the two seasons he played the majority of games.

Say what you want about him, Garoppolo is a winner.

@RayMart8722 – Jack, do you think that there is enough evidence to support the theory that Shanahan & Garoppolo should be operating the offense under an up-tempo game speed more often? I had no idea that under the 2-minute offense the 49ers were ranked 2nd in the NFL in points.

I think Shanahan would like to get the offense moving faster than they have been able to at times this year, but it’s a balance.

I’d also argue the 49ers defense has also played a role in the tempo of the offense this season. There was a stretch in the middle of the year during which the defense went through transition, and it took a couple of weeks for them to get into rhythm.

Those long, time consuming drives during victories over Los Angeles, Jacksonville, and Minnesota was key to reducing the snaps for the defense.

One thing is for certain on though, it’s good to know the 49ers offense can move the ball down the field late in games when called upon. That could come in handy over the remainder of the season and into the postseason.

Here is what Shanahan told Bay Area media on Monday when asked about this topic, ““I don’t know. Jimmy’s got some real good throwing ability. When we go there, it’s usually we need it and you’ve got to cut it loose and make plays and he’s had some success with that. We’ve done it sometimes in situations when it’s not two-minute, but
it’s all or nothing when it’s those moments. So, you know he is going to make some plays and try to avoid the bad ones.”

Shanahan was also asked if it’s the pressure of the moment that makes Garoppolo thrive. 

“I think so. I think he does really good in those situations.” said Shanahan. The game never seems too
big for him. When you’re going fast, there’s not a lot of time to sit there and think. You just react. And usually when Jimmy’s reacting, he’s letting it rip and not hesitating and he’s pretty automatic.”

@joezinsf – What chances are there Jennings gets more regular reps? Great blocker and the huge catch radius Air James needs.

Jauan Jennings has shown his ability to make plays when called upon throughout this season. His catch in overtime on a back shoulder throw from Jimmy Garoppolo was a thing of beauty.

Jennings’ role is clearly defined as that of the third wide receiver, meaning his targets will be somewhat limited.
I believe the next step for Jennings is to become the first man up if Deebo Samuel or Brandon Aiyuk are out, replacing Trent Sherfield in that role.

If Jennings can continue to make big plays like we’ve seen recently, Jennings may force the hand of Kyle Shanahan and the 49ers offensive coaching staff.

@C_Allan_Cain – Curious why Ward doesn’t get the nod to CB more since they’re pretty healthy at safety now.

The 49ers can’t afford to move Ward out of his role at free safety. Talanoa Hufanga is a promising rookie, but he struggles when playing the high safety role.

In addition, while Ward has the ability to play cornerback the best use of Ward’s talents is as a safety while occasionally moving down into the slot to cover a tight end or receiver.

@skies_montana – Are there any quality CB’s the 49ers could sign before the playoffs? If not, can the DL continue to protect the rookies in the secondary with great pressure up front?

At this point in the season the quality of cornerbacks available through free agency isn’t better than what the 49ers already have on their roster.

The team took a gamble on Jason Verrett in the offseason, believing he would be able to stay healthy for a second season despite the evidence showing otherwise. That move clearly didn’t pay off.

Through the draft San Francisco added two cornerbacks, Ambry Thomas in round three and Deommodore Lenoir in round five. Both have made starts this season, and their play is about what you would expect from a mid-round rookie cornerback.

Your second question has been the philosophy of the 49er’s front office during the tenure of the current regime, a strong pass rush will make the secondary better.

Taking a look at what they’ve done in recent weeks; victories over Los Angeles, Minnesota, and Cincinnati, three of the best passing teams in the NFL make it difficult to argue they are wrong.

Looking forward, San Francisco will likely need to keep getting pressure without Dee Ford. The 49ers have until Wednesday to make a decision regarding activating Ford from injured reserve. 

“That’s something that I never can predict, I’ll be surprised if he’s back,” Shanahan told reporters on Monday. “I think we’ll just have to continue playing without him.”

This article has 14 Comments

  1. Kind of scary to think about the salary cap situation and the number of players the 49ers need to sign. Curious of the salary cap implications if Jimmy G is cut vs traded and how the release of Dee Ford and Justin Verrett impact the salary cap next year. Maybe no benefit but I’m not up to speed on who is signed and who isn’t for next year.

    For Jennings, I think he is a pretty good WR but frankly I think the 49ers can do better at WR3. Not sure who they should sign but Jennings has his limitations. I’d love to see the 49ers sign a young speed guy in the mold of Tyreek Hill or Parris Campbell. My opinion is they need a guy who isn’t going to command WR1 targets but can take the top off the defense. Jennings isn’t that guy. I mean he can block and he’s a good possession type receiver so he can contribute but the 49ers are missing the speed element that scares defenses into backing off the intermediate routes. I guess you could say Travis Benjamin is that guy but his success rate is extremely low and he doesn’t seem to scare anyone.

    1. Interesting- I think Jennings is a great slot guy or safety valve IMO. His size and strength is fantastic and he’s deceptively quicker than his poor combine times. Makes the Jalen Hurd bitter pill easier to swallow.

      Honestly we have plenty of weapons on offense. Now if we just drafted better on Day 1 and 2, maybe dedicate some quality picks on the O-line (and CB on the defensive side of the ball) we’d be going somewhere. They’ve already invested in a QB so that remains to be seen if it was a great pick. I like Lance’s ceiling but not necessarily Shanny’s ability to develop him. But I keep an open mind about it.

      1. I don’t really agree the 49ers have everything they need on offense. Some teams are able to play 5 d-lineman or 8 in the box and still sit on the intermediate routes from Aiyuk and Deebo. Maybe it’s more about Jimmy’s inability to hit the deep pass but defenses are most certainly not in fear of the 49ers hitting a home run. Hit a few long balls and the entire offense opens up for those intermediate crossing routes Shanahan likes. I don’t think Deebo and Aiyuk are the deep route receivers for those plays.

    2. The cap savings on Garoppolo next year is the same whether he is cut or traded.

      Verrett is not under contract for next year, he’s one of the players they need to replace. San Francisco can save $7 million by cutting Dee Ford with a post June 1 designation. If they choose that route, they will carry a dead cap of ~ $4.91 million in 2022 and 2023

      1. Thats a big dead cap hit. I won’t blame the 49ers for trading for Dee Ford. It turned into a disaster but healthy Ford and Bosa are probably the best book ends in the NFL. They swung and missed on that one. Now the 49ers need to find another Ford. I personally don’t think Ebukam or any of the other guys have that level of talent.

  2. A few weeks back, a small but relentless presence of social media keyboarders were calling for the ouster of 49ers coach Kyle Shanahan.

    Of course, there were few suggestions about who might replace him. But, hey, nobody really tried to pretend any of that talk was rational.


    Social media keyboarders, LOL. That no one gave rational thought to. Gee I wonder who he could have been talking about?

  3. I’m not really a PFF guy so I’m sure some other poster will correct me but I thought Tom Compton and Daniel Brunskill played very poorly against the Bengals. 49ers gave up 5 sacks and that was after the Bengals best pass rusher went out in the 2nd qtr. Seems like they are both decent in run blocking (and yes I’m being very generous) but in pass pro they are really terrible. Lining up any QB behind those 2 on a pass play is like child abuse. All of that begs the question, EXACTLY how bad is Aaron Banks in practice? I mean that was your 2nd round pick and he can’t beat out Daniel Brunskill? At some point, don’t people need to start asking questions in press conferences about John Lynch’s record at the top of the draft? Obviously, Bosa was a homerun but jeez the misses in the top 3 rounds is very obvious.

    1. I think Compton graded out pretty highly against the run but poor in pass coverage. Basically, what we get with Mike McTrunstyle, at a fraction of the cost.

      The narrative around Banks has been that his natural position is on the left side and it’s too much of a learning curve to throw him in at RG. Then again if he wasn’t highly drafted he’d be a utility scrub that would be inserted at almost any position along the line when needed; so I’m not buying it one bit.

      1. RT Tom Compton – 74.1

        Compton has the lowest pass-blocking score on the offense of 58.2, allowing four total pressures – one sack, one hit, two hurries. The right tackle’s overall score was fifth highest on the offense because of his 87.0 run-blocking grade.

        Compton been consistently solid for the 49ers on the ground, with a 94.3 run-blocking grade over the last three weeks. That score ranks him second-highest among all tackles (Detroit Lions right tackle Penei Sewell 95.3).

        Source: NBC Sports Bay Area

  4. I really enjoy the question and answer posts. Your answers are very good in my opinion. I also saw that Matt comment above but can’t remember where.

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