We’re a little over a month away from free agency, where the San Francisco 49ers have over 25 unrestricted free agents the team needs to decide if they want to re-sign. It won’t be easy as the Niners don’t have much wiggle room from a salary cap standpoint.
It feels like every decision made this offseason comes back to the quarterback. Will we finally see San Francisco restructure Jimmy Garoppolo to create more cap space? General manager John Lynch spoke about this topic during his exit interview after the regular season and said the 49ers hadn’t restructured Garoppolo because they haven’t needed the money—yet.
Sport’s Illustrated’s Albert Breer was asked about the Niners quarterback situation moving forward in his recent mailbag. Here’s how he answered:
I think it is what it’s been: The Niners are open to an upgrade but would be O.K. going forward with their current quarterback. It’s not a terrible spot to be in. The Raiders have gotten good play from Derek Carr in that sort of scenario. I think you could see the Rams being in that sort spot now, too. It’s, again, where the Chiefs were for all those years with Smith.
It’s sort of like being in a month-to-month lease while you’re looking for a house. Without a set date when you have to buy, you have flexibility to find something you really like.
So maybe they really like one of the draft quarterbacks and will trade up from No. 12. Maybe they’ll deal for someone like Sam Darnold. Maybe they see Matt Ryan as a better stopgap than Jimmy Garoppolo, if Atlanta makes him available. Regardless of any of that, they’ve got the choice to stand pat or get aggressive at the most important position, and not compromise the rest of the team’s fortunes, and that’s a good place to be in.
Breer isn’t saying anything we didn’t already know here, but I like the Carr comparison. Carr threw for over 4,100 yards this season with a 27/9 TD/INT ratio. If you remember his game against the Chiefs during Week 11, Carr looked like a star.
Kyle Shanahan hasn’t been shy about the fact that Jimmy needs to play more. Once Garoppolo does, the hope is that he becomes more consistent, and Jimmy’s game goes to another level. The issue with the Carr comparison is that he’s missed one start in seven seasons.
Smith has a reputation for being the king of “QB purgatory.” I doubt that’s what the 49ers are aiming for with Garoppolo, and while the argument could be made that he helped the team get to the Super Bowl in 2019, what are the odds they could replicate that same success again? Those are the questions the team must ask.
If they feel like Jimmy can take them to the promised land once again, Jimmy stays. If the front office feels like they must retain as many free agents as possible and the only way to do so is by moving on from Garoppolo, then he’s a goner.
The 49ers have ten selections in this upcoming draft, though six of those picks come after No. 139. If the 49ers are going to move up for a quarterback, it’ll involve moving future picks to meet the other team’s needs.
When Breer said, “that’s a good place to be in,” I’m wondering, is it? If you’re contemplating upgrading the most important position in the sport and are unsure what to do moving forward, is that where you want to be as an organization? My guess is no. The 49ers would love to be fully sold on Jimmy G, but his injury history and inconsistencies make it difficult, which is why we’re in this scenario.