If the 49ers were to draft a quarterback with the 13th pick in the upcoming draft, would your head explode?
The 49ers have given no indication what they plan to do with the 13th pick. Draft experts have argued the 49ers could take a wide receiver or a cornerback or an offensive tackle or a defensive tackle.
Is it possible the 49ers’ target is a quarterback? Could they make such a controversial move?
Let’s read the tea leaves.
Jimmy Garoppolo’s record as an NFL starting quarterback is 21-5. He has been terrific for the 49ers, who desperately needed a good quarterback before he arrived in a trade. He even went to the Super Bowl during his first full season as a starter.
But Garoppolo lost the Super Bowl, and was one of the main reasons the 49ers lost. He did so much harm to his own team during the fourth quarter — in just 15 minutes he overshadowed most of the good he had accomplished in his entire brief career.
What’s more, Kyle Shanahan doesn’t seem sold on Garoppolo. These tea leaves are pretty easy to read. After Garoppolo threw one interception during the 49ers’ divisional playoff win over the Vikings, Shanahan let Garoppolo throw just 12 passes over the next six quarters. So Garoppolo didn’t really take the 49ers to the Super Bowl. The 49ers took Garoppolo.
In the Super Bowl, Shanahan didn’t let Garoppolo run a two-minute drill at the end of the first half. Instead, Shanahan ran down the clock. He didn’t trust Garoppolo. Treated him like a beginner. And at the end of the game, when the 49ers were losing and needed Garoppolo to play like a franchise quarterback and hit a deep pass down the middle to Emmanuel Sanders, who was open, Garoppolo overthrew the pass by five yards.
To top it all off, Garoppolo is expensive. He will account for $26.6 million of the 49ers’ salary cap in 2020, $26.9 million in 2021 and $27 million in 2022. Big, big numbers.
He’s the main reason the 49ers currently have so little cap space and needed to trade their best defensive player, DeForest Buckner, for a first-round pick.
But the 49ers aren’t married to Garoppolo. In 2021, they can trade or release him and pay just a $2.8 million salary-cap penalty. They’ve kept their options open, just in case. Could “just in case” happen?
If the 49ers truly were sold on Garoppolo, they would extend his contract right now and restructure it to create tons of cap room. But doing so would commit the 49ers to Garoppolo for the long term, because trading him or releasing him would become much more expensive and complicated.
The 49ers don’t want to extend or restructure Garoppolo’s contract. General manager John Lynch said so. “I think we’re in a good spot right now, and we’ll probably hang tight,” Lynch said in February. Meaning the 49ers would rather maintain the option to walk away from Garoppolo next year, even if committing to him would make him more affordable.
After Lynch spoke, we began to see why the 49ers want to keep their quarterback options open.
On March 4, Tom Curran of NBC Sports Boston reported that “multiple sources” told him Shanahan has “some reservations about Garoppolo’s ceiling and overall decision-making.”