The San Francisco 49ers have said publicly that Jimmy Garoppolo is in their plans to start at quarterback in 2021, but if a team offers a first-round pick for the signal-caller, those plans could change in a hurry.
While it may seem unrealistic that a team would present the 49ers with such a proposition, there are several suitors who probably view themselves as being a QB away from having a contending roster.
One club in particular stands out as a leading candidate to make the move.
NFL Network’s Michael Girardi reported on San Francisco’s desired compensation for Garoppolo, and notably mentioned it in passing in a larger report on the New England Patriots:
Garoppolo started his career in New England as Tom Brady‘s would-be heir apparent. Football fans know the rest of the story. Brady continued to play at a high level, the Patriots traded Garoppolo to the 49ers, and the two men have Super Bowl starts between them over the past two postseasons.
It’s very possible that Cam Newton can thrive in his second year under center in New England, especially after Bill Belichick went on a free-agent spending spree to bolster the Pats’ talent level. There’s a flip side to that, though.
Wouldn’t trading the 15th overall pick for Garoppolo and making some savvy salary cap maneuvers to make it work be a logical move? Most of the offseason needs the Patriots needed to address were taken care of in free agency, so even a first-rounder shouldn’t stop them from striking a deal.
Even though the proposition of having a lame-duck quarterback doesn’t sound pleasant for the 49ers or Garoppolo himself, in lieu of an offer from the Patriots of the No. 15 pick or a 2022 first-rounder, there aren’t many other scenarios where it seems like a trade can be executed.
The two teams that immediately pop to mind who should at least contend for the playoffs in 2021 and would upgrade at QB if they acquired Garoppolo are the Washington Football Team and the Chicago Bears.
But Washington can probably skate by with Ryan Fitzpatrick under center for now, and while they also made some splashy free-agent moves, a first-round pick at 19th overall probably holds more value to Washington than the Pats’ first-rounder does to them.
As for the Bears, well, they’re just a mess. They don’t have the cap space and can’t do enough restructures to even take on Garoppolo’s modest-sized contract. Chicago’s brass seems content to roll with Andy Dalton as its QB1.
San Francisco head coach Kyle Shanahan has acknowledged Jimmy G is bound to give the 49ers their best chance to win now over any signal-caller they draft third overall or a veteran outside of the building they can realistically acquire.
All signs point to a Garoppolo-49ers union for one more season unless Foxborough comes calling with the goods.