The San Francisco 49ers may be resigned to keep Jimmy Garoppolo, but they’d replace him if there’s a chance to do so in a significant way.
If availability is the best ability for an NFL starting quarterback, Jimmy Garoppolo has failed by missing 13 games in 2018 and 10 games this past season. Of course he played all 16 games in 2019 and was the quarterback in the Super Bowl for the 49ers, but he was also not the primary reason for that success.
A lot has been and will continue to be made about how easily the 49ers can move on from Garoppolo this offseason. Trading him or cutting him would clear $23.6 million in cap space and leave behind just $2.8 million in dead money (according to Over The Cap). If Tom Brady had been willing to sign with the 49ers last offseason, Garoppolo would have already been pushed aside.
Head coach Kyle Shanahan has tried to profess commitment to Garoppolo for next season, but there’s always a hint of “unless we have a better option” in his comments. That’s what fuels trade speculation regarding Kirk Cousins to the 49ers, and they reportedly had interest in Matthew Stafford before the division rival Rams got him. With that pursuit of Stafford falling short, a move to backup plans it is.
The 49ers are committed to Jimmy Garoppolo, unless….
Via Boston.com, here’s what ESPN’s Jeremy Fowler said regarding the 49ers on “SportsCenter” Sunday morning.
“They believe they can win with [Garoppolo], but it would take a big swing, like a Deshaun Watson effect here, to make that change,” Fowler said. “And I’m told that the 49ers are one of the teams that Watson’s at least intrigued by. A source said, ‘Which quarterback wouldn’t want to be in that offense on that team with all those weapons and Kyle Shanahan?’ So always a possibility, but the Texans have made clear they’re not willing to deal Watson right now. Garoppolo’s still a viable option for San Fran.”
So it would take a “big swing” for the 49ers to move on from Garoppolo? That doesn’t feel like news, as general manager John Lynch has pursued Brady to some level twice and the 49ers have been a rumored suitor for multiple big names otherwise. Fowler leaves no mystery who that big swing would be for, however obvious it would be without naming a name — Deshaun Watson.
So Garoppolo will be the 49ers’ quarterback next season, unless they can get someone noticeably better to replace him. Watson, and to a lesser degree Cousins, fit that bill as options for the 49ers until further notice.