In his Monday recap San Francisco 49ers head coach Kyle Shanahan was asked several questions about the team’s quarterback situation. One of the questions was clarification about a comment he made about using the franchise tag on Jimmy Garoppolo next season.
Here is his response:
I think that's logical to, just being totally honest, when you look into it, even before we got him, how long are you going to have to make a decision on the guy. I think anybody who, when you're making a long-term decision on someone for your organization, to pay him the amount of money that you do long-term for quarterbacks, that's a big deal. Someone who hasn't played in a lot of football games who is coming here in a situation where he hasn't had the fair opportunity to prepare the right way, on both sides I think it would be very hard for Jimmy to go in there and show over whatever timespan that is that he could do that.
Also for us, man, that's a lot of pressure to get a guy ready to commit to something that long-term. I think knowing how the franchise tag works and stuff is what made it kind of a no-brainer to make that trade. Like, ‘Hey, you have this opportunity to get such a good player. What's the negative?’ Well, you don't want to lose him in six weeks or eight weeks. If you have the franchise tag, then you don't have to ever worry about losing him. You can get there, you can do things the right way, really find out what the guy is. I think we understand that. I think Jimmy understands that also.
...I think that's why it makes it easy for us to talk and easy for us to work through. I think Jimmy has goals and believes in himself that he can be one of the better quarterbacks in the league. Anyone who feels that way I would assume wants to be paid that way, or be paid accordingly. It's very tough to do over six games, five games, four games. I think Jimmy wants his best opportunity to prove that to us. I'd like to give that to him. If that happens over a five-game span, a three-game span, then great, let's do it. If it doesn't, no big deal. We can franchise you. Let's go to work. Our goals will be to get you that next year. If that does happen for you, that means it happens for us. I think we'll all be happy about that.”
As general manager John Lynch stated in his mid season report, the 49ers have a lot of resources (i.e. cap space), which make them an attractive place for players to land. While Garoppolo likely wants to carve out a long term deal, a quarterback’s franchise tag salary is nothing to turn up your nose at. Garoppolo would find very little to argue about. His current salary is $820,077 and if he gets tagged it would jump up to somewhere in the neighborhood of $22 million. (This year’s quarterback tag was $21.268M)
Oakland Raiders quarterback Derek Carr, who was drafted only 26 picks above Garoppolo in 2014, became the highest paid player in the NFL (for a few months) when he received a five year $125M contract. Not too much later Detroit Lions QB Matthew Stafford topped the Raiders QB, inking a five year $135M deal.
The franchise tag is the average of the top five salaries in the position group which in some cases makes it a win-win for both parties. The pressure is taken off of the franchise to offer a large multi year contract and the player receives a handsome salary. If a team and player enter into a franchise tag agreement for a second consecutive year the player is entitled to a 120 percent raise which is what happened in the case of Kirk Cousins. All of this makes sense in regards for the 49ers who thus far only have a small sample size of live snaps to use to judge their new quarterback. Of course, all that could shift a bit if Garoppolo is given the start on Sunday in Chicago.