The 2021 NFL Draft will commence on Thursday, but we could see some movement in the hours leading up to the No. 1 pick.
Everyone is waiting to see what the San Francisco 49ers do with the No. 3 overall pick. It’s no secret that they will be going with a quarterback, but it remains to be seen which one it will be out of Mac Jones, Trey Lance or Justin Fields.
Because general manager John Lynch and head coach Kyle Shanahan decided to trade up to acquire the third pick, it means incumbent starter Jimmy Garoppolo doesn’t fit into the organization’s long-term plans.
Shanahan wouldn’t firmly commit to Jimmy G being on the roster during his recent media availability, adding to the speculation that the Niners will try and trade Garoppolo at the draft.
Jason La Canfora of CBS Sports reports there is a “strong expectation” among NFL GMs that the 49ers will move Garoppolo in the coming days.
Very strong expectation among other GM's and throughout the industry that the 49ers will make major effort to move Jimmy Garoppolo before or during the draft. Timing isn't great with 5 QBs about to go in 1st round, but Jimmy G's future there now seen as bleak— Jason La Canfora (@JasonLaCanfora) April 27, 2021
It’s not surprising to see La Canfora say the feeling around the league is that San Francisco will trade away Jimmy G at the draft. The Niners could recoup an asset by moving on from him now rather than waiting to see how things shake out with the incoming rookie QB at training camp.
Tony Pauline of the Pro Football Network says that San Francisco’s inability to add a veteran QB in free agency put the organization into a tough spot with Garoppolo.
“If the Niners end up taking Mac Jones over Trey Lance, which is the way it looks as of right now, it’s because of what they could not accomplish during the offseason.
“The team really wanted to sign a veteran quarterback and went hard after Andy Dalton as well as Joe Flacco.
“The game plan was then to trade Jimmy Garoppolo, likely to the Patriots, draft Lance, and let him sit for most of the season. The inability to sign Dalton or Flacco put them in a bind and now makes taking a quarterback who’s more NFL-ready a priority.”
It’s tough to envision Lynch and Shanahan re-signing a ton of their own key free agents just to give the keys to Andy Dalton or Joe Flacco. It seems like the 49ers believe they can compete for a Super Bowl in 2021, which is why Lynch and Shanahan have flirted with the idea of keeping Garoppolo on the roster. He has shown he can help lead a team to a 13-3 finish and win in the playoffs when healthy.
Many draft pundits and NFL insiders have been saying that they believe Jones will be San Francisco’s pick. If that is the case, it’s easy to see the 49ers jettisoning Garoppolo for a 2021 draft pick. The organization would relieve itself of Jimmy G’s $26.4 million cap hit with only $2.8 million in dead money on the books for 2021.
There is a downside to going with a rookie to lead a Super Bowl-ready roster. For one, no rookie signal-caller has ever led his team to a championship, so the Niners would be aiming to make history in 2021.
The other is that if the incoming rookie QB struggles to grasp the pro game and Shanahan’s system, it could basically become another wasted season without another proven QB on the roster. We saw how things went when Garoppolo got hurt in 2018 and 2020 without a solid backup.
Judging by the recent media availability, Lynch is trusting Shanahan to make the final decision. The general manager said that he is deferring to the head coach because he also serves as the offensive play-caller.
It’s been fascinating to see how good the 49ers have been at keeping their intention a secret. There have been a plethora of hot takes and rumors about which QB the organization will select since the trade with the Miami Dolphins was made late last month.
Either way, Garoppolo’s time in the Bay Area appears to be limited. We just have to wait and see how long that will be.