Why the 49ers belief in Garoppolo isn’t just a smoke screen

San Francisco 49ers quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo (10) takes snaps before the NFL pro preseason football game between the Kansas City Chiefs and San Francisco 49ers on August 14, 2021 at Levi’s Stadium in Santa Clara, CA. (Photo by Bob Kupbens/Icon Sportswire) (Icon Sportswire via AP Images)

It is starting to look like all of the talk from the 49ers regarding their plans for veteran quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo hasn’t been just a smoke screen after all.

After San Francisco drafted Trey Lance with the third pick in the draft, it was easy to question how sincere the organization was when it said it planned for Garoppolo to continue as the starter with his current contract in place. With a salary cap hit of $26.4 million for 2021 and $27 million in 2022, it seemed as though the 49ers front office was simply trying to pump up Garoppolo’s value for a possible trade.

Josh Rosen’s presence on the roster had been the linchpin for the case made by some, myself included, that the organization might be willing to trade away Garoppolo at some point before this season’s trade deadline. Rosen had been the 10th selection in the 2018 draft, so the belief was he must be talented, and working with Kyle Shanahan would finally provide the break that he’d need to find success. That proved to be as inaccurate as most of Rosen’s throws during training camp.

The 49ers released Rosen on Tuesday afternoon, a move all but guaranteeing Garoppolo will be on the roster for the entire season and the starting quarterback for the 49ers season opener against the Detroit Lions.

With the release of Rosen, the remaining quarterbacks in San Francisco’s quarterback room are Garoppolo, Lance and Nate Sudfeld. Anyone that has ever watched Sudfeld play can conclude that there is no way that Lynch and Shanahan would willingly choose to have him and a rookie be the only quarterbacks on the roster.

The Rosen release may also be an indication that the 49ers will carry only two quarterbacks, Garoppolo and Lance, on their 53-man roster. When San Francisco signed Sudfeld this offseason, they gave him a signing bonus of $250,000. This was likely with the understanding that he would be on their practice squad this season and to help with the resulting reduction in salary. By choosing to go with only two quarterbacks, there would be greater roster flexibility, which may be necessary due to the number of players currently working through injuries.

This article has 29 Comments

    1. I mean I have been following Grant for some time. At this point he is just trolling us all. He’s good at his job.

    2. This isn’t simply Grant Cohn trolling Niner Nation. There are plenty of smart people who feel like Lance needs to play, because there are two legitimate sides to this argument.

      Garoppolo is simply a place holder now. That’s just the way it works when you leverage the future, in terms of draft capitol, in order to draft a QB. The NFL is a business, and the salary cap matters a lot. There are plenty of smart people who believe the sooner Trey Lance can get to the point where Kyle feels like he gives the Niners their best chance at winning on Sundays, the better off the team will be. It’s only a matter of whether Kyle feels like the risk of starting Trey at some point this season, is worth the potential rewards. I believe it is because I believe the positive affect of Trey Lance in relation to Kyle’s rushing attack, is a winning factor. The reward outweighs the risk. I’m 100% sure that Kyle doesn’t want Trey to be going through major growing pains at this same time next season. And that’s a genuine risk if you believe he needs live reps in order to develop, which I do. There is only so much value in standing on the sideline, holding a clipboard, and former NFL QB’s will tell you as much. The more reps that Trey takes behind center this season, the sooner he’s going to be ready.

      The catch 22 is – once the season starts, there won’t be a lot of snaps for the backup QB to take, but if Kyle feels confident that he can keep the 49ers in the winning column as Trey develops behind center, then going with Lance becomes a no-brainer! Sorry Jimmy, it’s nothing personal.

      1. BTW, I do know that Grant certainly can be a troll. The two of us have had plenty of debates over the years in regards to some of his outrageous proclamations, and he always loses those debates. The last heated debate we had on this blog was in regards to DK Metcalf. Grant was in the corner of those who thought Metcalf’s limited route tree would be an issue at the NFL level. And in typical Grant fashion, he even made up a random critique claiming DK Metcalf had a “false step” at the stem of his routes, that would make it hard for him to separate at the top of his routes. LOL. I have no idea where he came up with his false step critique, but I pointed out that a guy named Megatron ran a very limited route tree during his entire NFL career.

        But Grant’s most laughable trolling was when he claimed Nick Mullens was a better QB than Jimmy G. Yah, he said that!

        1. The funny thing is … If somebody had told me before last Saturday’s game, that Kyle was going to emphasize Trey exclusively inside the pocket, and that he was going to face a team that was pinning their ears back and bringing pass rushers all over the place, I would have predicted Trey would have actually had a worse game than he did! That’s the thing. That’s why I was pissed. Trey had no chance. Today, Kyle let him run with the 1’s, and let Trey be Trey, and he absolutely dazzled at times, especially in the redzone. The big play was a spectacular QB draw, and Trey would have gone the distance!

          I’ll say it again …. he moves like a big cat.

          I honestly don’t think you guys quite realize what Kyle has his hands on now. I caught the tail end of one practice, so I’ve seen this kid in person. This kid is oozing with talent. He’s big, and he moves like a BIG CAT. He’s not just big and fast, he’s a gifted runner, big enough to handle contact. But he’s also fast enough, and agile enough, to avoid defenders. The way he runs is absolutely dynamic.

          Kyle can draw up anything he wants now, if Trey is on the field. It’s just a matter of Kyle putting him in a position to play well, like we saw today. Lance is the real deal. But he needs snaps, damnit!

          The sooner we this kid acclimated, the sooner the Niners are going to flat out dominate the NFL!

          1. I’ll stay away from my critiques of Garoppolo, and his typical issues with hesitation and lack of conviction, like we saw again today. He completed a long bomb today, but he threw the ball straight up in the air, and got lucky that the ball dropped right back down in the bucket. I am not going to keep bashing Jimmy, and piling on, because I really do like the guy, and I generally do think he is an NFL caliber starting QB, which is a very commendable thing, even if he might be outside of the top 15 (way outside 15 if you factor in his injuries [knock on wood]). Plus, he’s richer than me, and probably more handsome as well.

            Trey Lance: Finally playing behind the first string OL today, Trey Lance looked more poised than Jimmy Garoppolo, and Trey outplayed him. Trey’s athletic ability, which was on display today, is in a different stratosphere than Jimmy, and same goes for Trey’s arm. For the most part, Trey understands the playbook, enough so if Kyle simplifies it a bit, like he’s done with great success in the past.

            But I will say, there is a lot of pressure on Kyle to get this thing right. I do understand the tough spot he’s in. And it’s probably a little too late now to trade him or cut him, even if Trey beats him out at some point. SO I realize that I should back off Kyle a bit, and try not to get so angry, even though I know that Kyle is ultimately smart enough to get this right, even if it takes him a bit longer than it needs to.

            One more thing. Offensive Line depth appears to be a serious issue right now. I hope you guys all realize that our backup OL’s could be a serious problem this season. I feel pretty sure about this, I don’t think I’m exaggerating. It’s bad enough that they may be forced to make a move and trade away a very good player. Then again, I also worried about Justin Skule as the Swing Tackle, and he surprised me., but oh my. Maybe Colton McKivitz steps up … maybe?

            DEE FORD!, the entire defensive front seven … holy moly does it look absolutely AMAZING, and we know what that means! If Bosa comes back full go, the defense is more than good enough to help a young QB keep the team ahead on the scoreboard.

            1. In fact, a quick calculation of the 49ers analysts that I follow (ex-scouts, ex-players, ex-executives, beat writers, ex-beat writers, journalists, sportscasters, ex-sportscasters, podcaster, etc), shows that 8 out of 10 (80%) believe the 49ers should start Trey Lance (not Jimmy G) at some point early in the season.

              Some say week 1, some say the bye week, some just say early on. Among the reasons and/or arguments:

              – He’ll develop much quicker by playing, not sitting … go get um

              – The 49ERS schedule is especially soft to start the season … easy money

              – The 49ERS defense will almost singlehandedly keep them in position to win … go niners

              – It’s Kyle’s thing! He’s already proven to be able to simplify his offense without sacrificing production … been there-done that

              – Trey’s abilities “unlock” Kyle’s entire repertoire … the mad scientist

              – More of those “explosive” plays that Kyle absolutely loves … it feels great, baby

              – Early development for Trey means Kyle can expand his playbook down the stretch as the postseason approaches … bring on the playoffs

              – Kyle and Trey can make history together, as Trey becomes the first rookie QB ever to win a Super Bowl … yah baby

              – The 49ers go into 2022 with the benefits of a much more experienced young QB, with 4 years still left on his rookie pay scale … wowza

              – Trey can serve notice to the entire NFL, and especially the NFC West … booyah

  1. You finally got there. That’s all that matters. Here’s to Jimmy having a 2017 Alex Smith like year.

  2. It was pretty obvious to me that JG would start the year at QB but on a more important topic, it has been reported that the 49er D was dominant today versus a pretty damn good LA O. If this D stays healthy I see them being better than 2019. Again, if they stay healthy this team is going to win the SB. I can tell you this if JG can keep the job and the team wins the SB Grant may have stroke.

  3. Gosh I hate to be a reactionary off one play, but I feel like Benjamin might make this team. I could see him being our deep threat. He can return punts if needed. Most importantly Shanahan knows him and he knows the system.

    Aiyuk
    Deebo
    Sanu
    Sherfield
    Webster
    Benjamin

    Jennings/Hurd to PC

    1. I like Jennings than Benjamin at this point. Other than that play yesterday, Benjamin has not shown anything for me to warrant being in the team (PC maybe). I’ve heard Jennings had a better camp too but seems like Benjamin is a Kyle favorite so I won’t be surprised if he makes the team. But Jennings has the size and toughness and strong hands that I like a lot.

    2. Jennings will make the team. Hufanga (as I said 2 months ago) will be a late round steal and special teams
      ace / saftey – linebacker hybrid.

  4. I was surprised that Rosen was cut so early in the process and disappointed. Not for Rosen but for the Niners. I thought that if anyone could turn him around it would be Shanahan and they would end up with a strong back up at minimal cost.
    By most accounts, Rosen is supremely physically talented, is extremely bright and completely uncoachable. Apparently his ego won’t allow him to be coached. His last presser made it obvious he was out. He refused to take any ownership and instead blamed his performance on not getting enough snaps in practice.
    He is probably out of football for good but he walks away with his ego intact and as a rich man.

  5. Meh. Nothing has changed guys. This is Jimmy’s team until it’s Lance’s team!

    That’s been the case sense they traded for Lance. The only question is how long it will remain Jimmy’s team. One thing that seems certain, it won’t be Jimmy’s team after this season. But it is Jimmy’s team now. It will be Jimmy’s team until he either plays poorly, the offense struggles, or he gets hurt (knock on wood). Personally, I’d rather they traded Jimmy away, allowing Trey to develop without the distraction of having the veteran Garoppolo on the roster, but I don’t think there is much of a market for Garoppolo, or else he would probably already have been moved. I’d feel differently if I had faith in Garoppolo’s ability to get the Niners over the hump, but the fact of the matter is that the stars lined up perfectly for Jimmy in 2019, but his HC still didn’t trust him with the football during the postseason, and when it was time for Jimmy to put up or shut up, he blew it! Jimmy sealed his fate in the Super Bowl, but Kyle was already trending towards replacing him, which seems obvious by the way Kyle literally took the football out of Jimmy’s hand when they rolled into the postseason. I know a lot of people would like to forget about that, and the fact that Jimmy has missed a million games due to injury, but Kyle hasn’t forgotten it, I can assure you guys of that!

    Trey Lance …. he needs reps. I think everyone paying attention knows that his raw talent is OFF THE CHARTS, but he needs reps. And for me, if this team is going to make another deep playoff run, it’s going to be on the strength of their defense, and running game, and that’s where I believe Trey gives the 49ers at least as good of a chance of winning now as Jimmy, because of the positive effects Trey will have on the rushing attack. Trey is conservative with his passes, which means he doesn’t have a propensity to throw those back-breaking pick-sixes like Jimmy did vs the Charges today. But he’s conservative to a fault, because he needs the reps. He’d rather take a sack right now than make a big mistake, but Kyle can design a game plan that takes advantage of the things Trey does best now, while gradually opening up the playbook as Trey gets more comfortable in this offense, and more aggressive as a result. It’s one of Kyle’s strengths as a play caller, and we saw it with RG3, and again with Jimmy G (the pre-injury versions) in 2017.

    It behooves them to hold onto Jimmy at this point, even as an expensive insurance policy, and I’m hoping that’s what they do because, if the Niners can win while they develop Trey Lance as the season progresses (and I think they can), they will be in a much better position by the time we get into December, as well as next year, when they won’t have Garoppolo as an insurance policy.

    My prediction at this stage is that Trey Lance is named the starter during the bye week! Take that to the bank!

    1. Or, let’s put it this way – I don’t think Kyle’s afraid to bench Jimmy, and I don’t think he’s worried about paying Jimmy G. $25+ million this season, even if Jimmy ends up holding the clipboard for Lance, at some point throughout the season. So the fact that they are riding with Lance and Jimmy this season, doesn’t mean Jimmy is locked in as the starter, IMO.

      We’ll see if Trey looks a little more comfortable, and Kyle allows him to use his legs a little bit on Sunday. Kyle drew up a QB draw for Lance today and it was electrifying. This kid is a special talent, IMO, it’s just a matter of time!

  6. The significant difference is that Lance can effectively execute the option in the read option. Lance keeps his eyes downfield and can find open receivers. Kap was a 1 read (Boldin/Crabtree) QB. Opposing Ds figured out that they can take away the primary receiver and then focus on stopping Kap and Gore the Niners offense was doomed.

    1. I disagree. I watched every game he played in and saw him make multiple reads and amazing throws all the time.

      When Kaepernick came back from his 3 off season surgeries (shoulder, knee & right hand thumb) mid-way through the 2016 season, he improved every single game and finished with a QBR rating of something like 103 in his final game. All this with a team with very little talent surrounding him.

      Because of his protest, an incredible amount of people absolutely hate him and falsely state that he was no good.

      i really hate that he will most likely never get an opportunity in the NFL again – even as a back up. Especially when Blake Bortles is on a team somewhere. Kaep took the job from him the second he was medically cleared to take the field.

      He was the Len Eshmont award winner in 2016 – his last season. Voted by his fellow teammates as the most inspirational player.

      What an absolute shame.

      Regardless of politics, etc – players should be evaluated by their on-field performance.

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