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How the 49ers missed their window to maximize Jimmy Garoppolo’s value

Patience isn’t paying off

San Francisco 49ers v Philadelphia Eagles Photo by Michael Zagaris/San Francisco 49ers/Getty Images

All we’re hearing now is how the San Francisco 49ers have mismanaged their quarterback situation, overplayed their hand, and missed the window to maximize Jimmy Garoppolo’s value.

After the 2020 season, the Niners made it clear that Jimmy wasn’t a part of their long-term plans. That started in January when the team was linked to Matthew Stafford before their divisional rival Rams came in and swooped up Stafford. Every quarterback available from Deshaun Watson to Sam Darnold was linked to San Francisco.

It wasn’t before March 26 that the team gave multiple first-round picks to trade up to the No. 3 overall pick to select a quarterback. A Garoppolo trade felt inevitable. The team was built to win now. And while the 49ers had been successful whenever Garoppolo was healthy, it didn’t take an expert to understand that Kyle Shanahan was in control of the offense.

Now, a year later, Jimmy’s trade market is in quicksand. Football analysis is subjective. You see what you want to see. There’s one side that will point to Garoppolo’s win/loss record and advance metrics that favor the quarterback. There’s another that will point to the constant misses to open receivers and the overall low ceiling that comes with having Jimmy under center.

Of course, it’s not as cut and dry as to how well Garoppolo performed on the field. Injuries have been synonymous with Jimmy since he’s been in the NFL. He only missed two starts in 2021, but a lingering shoulder injury that should have been taken care of at the time is coming back to bite the team now that they’re trying to move their signal-caller.

On Monday, ESPN’s Dianna Russini mentioned how the Colts viewed Jimmy’s shoulder injury as a red flag since Garoppolo wouldn’t have been able to throw this offseason with his new team.

So, we have a 30-year-old quarterback with a consistent injury history that is mediocre when he does play. Then, add in other quarterbacks who became available this offseason, such as Watson — who the team had to account for or else that’s negligence on their part — Matt Ryan, and Tom Brady retiring for a month. Landing spots for Garoppolo became few and far between.

On Monday, NBC Sports Bay Area’s Matt Maiocco tweeted that he doesn’t believe any team has made an offer for Jimmy. As we said last week, there’s no way you can convince me that Washington and general manager Martin Mayhew — who was previously in San Francisco’s front office — didn’t pick up the phone and call John Lynch to make an offer for Garoppolo.

A better way to phrase what Maiocco said would be that the 49ers haven’t received an offer that they’ve liked. Garoppolo shouldn’t want to play for Washington, so it’s plausible that he said no.

But you mean to tell me a team like the Browns, before they landed Watson and knowing their time with Baker Mayfield was up, didn’t call the Niners and make an offer? I’m not buying that. And Cleveland is one example. In a league where teams covet a competent quarterback, somebody gave Lynch a ring and made an offer.

Football is fluid. A year ago, and, perhaps, even a month ago, the 49ers front office felt like they could get two second-round picks for Garoppolo. But, after Matt Ryan was traded for only a third-rounder, Jimmy and Baker’s market have been nuked.

It would take an obnoxious level of patience — likely into next season, for either Cleveland or San Francisco to receive their desired compensation for each quarterback.

The Niners can’t afford to wait. This is Trey Lance’s team. He’s going to receive all of the reps this offseason and into training camp. The $25 million that Garoppolo carries might not hurt the team as of today — although a Jadeveon Clowney opposite of Nick Bosa would be nice — but that money could go to extending Bosa and Deebo Samuel this summer.

The argument for keeping Jimmy rings hollow. The longer he remains on the roster, the worse it looks for the team. Why would Garoppolo restructure his contract? Do you want Lance having to look over his shoulder, knowing that the majority of the locker room supports Jimmy G? There’s inevitable chaos that comes with having both quarterbacks on the roster.

Stubbornness. That’s the word I keep coming back to when discussing the Niners and how they’ve handled this quarterback fiasco the past year or so. Without even having a starting option in place, we've seen other teams have no issue moving on from their quarterback.

That hasn’t been the case in San Francisco, which is why they missed their window to maximize their return for Garoppolo. Of course, they could get lucky, and a desperate team could enter the equation, but that’s unlikely.

When the best-case scenario is no longer on the table, and it’s more likely that Jimmy G is released than traded for the value that you thought he was worth, it’s safe to say the 49ers missed their window to move Garoppolo.