The San Francisco 49ers landed their face of the franchise by selecting quarterback Trey Lance with the No. 3 pick in the 2021 NFL Draft. While he will be starting in the future, it seems Jimmy Garoppolo might open the season as the 49ers’ starting quarterback.
When San Francisco traded up for the No. 3 pick, many assumed it meant Garoppolo was a goner. The franchise spent three first-round picks to invest in another quarterback, making the 29-year-old passer nothing more than a stop-gap for the position.
NFL teams immediately started calling general manager John Lynch, especially as rumors swirled that Mac Jones was the franchise’s target. Hours before the 2021 NFL Draft, rumors spread that the New England Patriots were even in talks with Garoppolo about a contract restructure.
But the draft came and went with Garoppolo still on San Francisco’s roster. With training camp just a few months away, there might not be a blockbuster trade in the near future or even this year.
The 49ers are likely to keep Garoppolo on the roster for the 2021 season, then will explore dealing him to another team or cutting him next offseason, per NBC Sports’ Peter King.
San Francisco listened to inquiries on the veteran quarterback, but the price tag seemingly drove clubs away. While Garoppolo is a quality passer, he put a ceiling on Kyle Shanahan’s offense and other play-callers likely recognized he doesn’t offer a ton of upside.
He dealt with injuries this past season, playing in only six games and finishing with a 3-3 record. While Garoppolo completed 67.1% of his passes, that was largely the result of a simplified offense. He had the second-highest share of pass attempts behind the line of scrimmage (20%), per Pro Football Focus, with 47.9% of his attempts made on short throws. Most alarming, just 7.1% of his passes were thrown 20-plus yards downfield.
Owed $24 million for the upcoming season, Garoppolo will likely be San Francisco’s starter in Week 1. Lance ran a pro-style offense at North Dakota State, but he only played in one game last year. So, given Garoppolo’s familiarity with Shanahan’s scheme, he will likely remain as a mentor for Lance and as a bridge to the future.