Soon after ESPN’s Adam Schefter broke the news that the San Francisco 49ers and Dolphins made a blockbuster trade, he reported that the Niners had been attempting to move up into the top five for several weeks. Miami wasn’t the only team the 49ers spoke with.
According to Schefter, San Francisco also talked to the Atlanta Falcons and Cincinnati Bengals, who select No. 4 and No. 5 in the draft, respectively. To me, this signals that the 49ers received intel that another team attempted to get to No. 3, and without risking losing out on “their guy,” they knew a deal with Miami had to be done.
Schefter also mentioned that the Niners traded up without one QB in mind and that they’re good with the options that will be available at No. 3. You don’t mortgage your future without being infatuated with one of the top options.
What’s this mean for Jimmy Garoppolo? Every talking head in the league or associated with the 49ers did everything in their power to confirm that Jimmy G would return as the team's starter in 2021. A few added a caveat that said, “unless the 49ers receive an offer, they can’t refuse.”
All offseason, it’s been lip service and political theater, and this is no different. You don’t trade this type of draft capital for:
- A one-year bridge QB making north of $25 million
- Rookie QB who you don’t feel is ready to play right away
- Without having a plan in place
I would guess those Gardner Minshew rumors carry a little more weight now. You say you want to keep Jimmy to drive up his trade value — looking at you, Bill. A team like the Bears makes a ton of sense. They have Andy Dalton and are unlikely to get into a position to draft one of the first-round QBs. Chicago “makes an offer you can’t refuse,” so you can go with that reasoning to explain yourself to the media.
Minshew is the true bridge quarterback as he’s under contract for under $1 million in 2021 and will still cost “pennies” in 2022. The deal is announced after a Garoppolo trade, and now the Niners have their quarterback room set.
There are a few other reasons you don’t keep Jimmy G. Could you imagine if the No. 3 overall pick was on the roster during Week 1? People would have been calling for Garoppolo’s benching right away, and that would have never gone away. The last thing you want is your starter looking over his shoulder. While many people have referenced the Alex Smith/Patrick Mahomes scenario, Alex always played and is viewed in a different light than Garoppolo.
Plus, why are we assuming that a rookie wouldn’t beat out Jimmy during training camp? There are so many common-sense talking points that point to Garoppolo’s exit. The final one is the rookie contract. The point of drafting a rookie would be to take advantage of all four years of him being cheap.
The Lions selected Jeff Okudah No. 3 overall last year, and his cap hit for four years looked like this:
Okudah’s signing bonus was $21.9 million that was amortized over each year of the contract. The 49ers aren’t paying a QB who they just moved heaven and earth for to ride the bench while they’re paying him north of $6 million.
The cap space the team saves this year rolls over into the following seasons. That will go towards Mike McGlinchey’s potential fifth-year option and make a Fred Warner and Laken Tomlinson extension more digestible for the team right away.
It’ll be a busy offseason for the 49ers, and this move was just the tip of the iceberg. But if you’re expecting Jimmy to be the “bridge” quarterback, then you’ve fallen for the PR trap they’ve set once again. I’d love to hear a scenario in the NFL where a team tried to do the same thing for the fourth year in a row and it worked. That’s the definition of insanity.
Check out Rob Guerrera and myself on the latest SB Nation podcast discussing our instant reaction to the Niners trade that could go down as one of the biggest in franchise history.