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Lance given impression he’ll start; Market ‘isn’t overly hot’ for Garoppolo, who Panthers are keeping tabs on

More QB rumors as we get closer to the NFL Draft

Houston Texans v San Francisco 49ers Photo by Lachlan Cunningham/Getty Images

Over the weekend, ESPN’s Jeremy Fowler added on to a report from March where he stated that 49ers quarterback Trey Lance is expected to be the starter:

“Meanwhile, Trey Lance has been working out in the Bay Area. I’m told that he’s got indications, at least informal indications from the team, that he’ll be the guy next year. He’s set to be that. Now, whether that means that they would still keep Garoppolo and that could change the dynamic, possibly. But right now, Lance is going to be the starter.”

That’s hardly news, given the investment the 49ers have in Lance. However, if the second-year quarterback isn’t named the starter for the 2022 regular season, that’d be viewed as an indictment for the 2021 No. 3 overall pick.

There’s some hedging above, but earlier in Fowler’s report, he mentioned the lack of market for Jimmy Garoppolo:

The market hasn’t been overly hot right now, largely because of Garoppolo’s shoulder surgery. Teams don’t know when he’ll be able to throw; it might be later in the summer. And so, can he pass a physical? These are questions that teams are sort of asking right now. We mentioned the Panthers earlier in relation to [Baker Mayfield]; they’ve done their homework on Garoppolo too. They’ve looked at all options, and Garoppolo is one. So that’s something to watch for down the road. Right now, San Francisco is prepared to hold on to that $26 million salary, at least as a placeholder for now. They believe they can do all of their business with draft picks and free agents until they sort all of this out.

Over the Cap has the 49ers listed with $1.5 million in cap space. They’ll need close to $10 million to sign their draft class. So, no, the team wouldn’t be able to “do all of their business” with its draft picks. That is, of course, unless they restructure a couple of contracts.

This brings us to a report on Monday courtesy of Sports Illustrated’s Albert Breer. Now that we know the Panthers have done their homework on Jimmy G., Breer spoke about how the Panthers' first-round pick could impact Garoppolo:

But if one or more of the tackles are there, it wouldn’t stun me, or others in the league, if the Panthers grit their teeth and go with the offensive lineman over the quarterback—with perhaps the idea that they could go and get Jimmy Garoppolo after the first round, or even Baker Mayfield, who’s been seen internally as a sort of redundant gamble to what the team did with Sam Darnold last year (and would probably require the Browns eating a whole bunch of his $18.858 million base).

So, if the Panthers are worried about Darnold’s $18.8 million salary, that all but signals the Niners would have to take on a good chunk of Darnold’s contract in exchange for Jimmy, right?

Carolina has the cap space to take on Jimmy’s contract. But they’d struggle to sign their draft class with both Garoppolo and Darnold on the books. The draft compensation involved would likely be determined by how much money the Niners eat if Darnold is included.

If you’re rooting for a draft-day trade, you’re hoping the Panthers pass on a quarterback at No. 6. Unfortunately, Carolina doesn’t pick again until No. 137, which is in the fourth round. If that’s the best compensation San Francisco can get in return for Garoppolo, then the reports about his market being cool are spot on.

You’d expect the 49ers to look for future picks from Carolina, especially considering the 2022 draft class is perceived as weak in talent. We’ll see if the Carolina and Garoppolo rumors gain more traction the closer we get to the draft.