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The Athletic: The 49ers ran out of patience at QB

Sheil Kapadia went through each NFL team to see what we’ve learned this offseason.

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Photo by Justin Edmonds/Getty Images

We are three weeks into the NFL offseason, and the San Francisco 49ers have been among the busiest teams in the league.

From re-signing their own players to being active in the free-agent market to making the biggest trade of the offseason, the Niners have made plenty of moves since finishing the 2020 season with a 6-10 record.

With all of the moves that have taken place, Sheil Kapadia of The Athletic says one thing is apparent: The 49ers ran out of patience at the quarterback position.

“The 49ers have won six games or fewer in three of four seasons with Kyle Shanahan as their head coach. A big part of that has been Jimmy Garoppolo’s injuries. He’s missed 23 of a possible 48 games over the past three seasons. So San Francisco took a huge swing to move up to the No. 3 spot in the draft for a quarterback.”

After Garoppolo missed 10 games this season, head coach Kyle Shanahan and John Lynch made the biggest splash of the past few weeks by moving up to No. 3. Without Jimmy G as the starter, the Niners are just 6-17 over the past three seasons.

Nick Mullens took most of the snaps with Garoppolo sidelined, and we saw how badly the team faltered. San Francisco could have gotten into the postseason with average play from Mullens, but he couldn’t rise to the challenge.

Over his five last starts of the 2020 campaign, Mullens has turned the ball over 10 times, which resulted in 37 points for the opposition. Every quarterback has interceptions, but the number of times Mullens has errant throws that he just completely misses where the defender is on the field have been frustrating.

The Niners were dealing with a rash of injuries but were still in a position to qualify for the playoffs. Lynch and Shanahan saw this and decided they needed to address the QB position, given Garoppolo’s injury history.

It wasn’t surprising to see the 49ers try and bring in another QB to either sit behind or push Garoppolo, but many people didn’t see the trade coming.

Lynch and Shanahan have said they intend on keeping Garoppolo for next season, but that could change if a team offers an intriguing package for the quarterback.

Kapadia also asked Jason Fitzgerald from Over the Cap about San Francisco’s offseason and shared why he didn’t like the contract given to All-Pro left tackle Trent Williams.

“I hated the Trent Williams contract,” Fitzgerald said. “I think $23 million a year, and I know the front end is about $20 million a year, but a guy who has a history of missing three to four games a season, was suspended once, 33 years old. I hate that contract.”

Pro Football Focus gave Williams the highest grade of any tackle last season. The 32-year-old missed two games last season and hasn’t played suited up for all 16 games since 2013.

But re-signing Williams gives the 49ers stability at one of the most critical positions in football. Losing Williams in free agency would have significantly altered the team’s draft plans, and it’s likely the Niners wouldn’t have moved up to select a QB. They would have had to address the left tackle position in the draft by taking a player like Northwestern’s Rashawn Slater.

While giving a 32-year-old a six-year deal is questionable for some, San Francisco structured the contract in a way that leaves it some outs towards the end of term.

The Niners gave Williams $30. million upfront with a massive signing bonus. He’s slated to make just over $40 million over the next two years and slightly more than $80 million through the first four seasons. Although it averages out to roughly $20 million per year, his cap hit for 2021 is only $8.2 million per Over the Cap.

The 49ers could also move on from Williams after Year 4 with minimal financial penalties. The team will only have just over $6 million in dead money on the books for the 2025 campaign if they elect to cut the left tackle.