Even before Deebo Samuel requested a trade, many 49ers fans thought the team should have been more aggressive during the primary spending periods in free agency. John Lynch addressed that particular criticism when he met with the media yesterday.
“We feel really good about our offseason. We took a hard look at our roster and said, ‘Where do we need to be better?’ And we think we’ve addressed those areas. I think a common theme was we wanted to be better, holistically, on special teams, but we never just want to have special teams players. We want guys that are fits into our offense or defense.
I think a lot of people see that correlation between the money that Jimmy is due and that is somehow prohibiting us from doing what we wanted to do, that wasn’t the case. We had a plan, we’ve been very aggressive, top five, top ten team in terms of cash. And we’ve had the pedal down for five years. It was time to probably, on the whole, take a step back in terms of the amount of cash and cap we were spending. And so that was planned all along. And still, I think despite those kinds of challenges we were able to have, what I believe, is a really productive offseason.”
It was always hard to believe that spending an extra $18.5 - $25 million wouldn’t have helped in a salary cap league especially when Lynch himself said in March that keeping Garoppolo’s salary on the books would change the team’s approach to free agency.
“There’s certainly tradeoffs,” he told Matt Maiocco on the 49ers Talk podcast, “But we budgeted for a lot of different things with Plan A, Plan B, Plan C, and one of those scenarios and a couple of those scenarios has included Jimmy. Yes, we can [keep him]. It will curtail what we are able to do, the aggressiveness in free agency.”
So, two possible scenarios exist here that are hard to reconcile. In scenario one (as Lynch said today), the 49ers were never going to use any extra money from trading/releasing Jimmy Garoppolo. Despite it being a salary cap league with fixed labor costs, the team was going to keep that money in its back pocket for...reasons.
In scenario two (as Lynch told Maiocco in February), they were perfectly willing to spend that money, but the team had to “curtail their aggressiveness” because they refused to let go of Jimmy Garoppolo and thus didn’t have that extra money to spend.
Neither outcome makes me feel warm and fuzzy. Now is the time when the team should be gobbling up free agents because they have a starting quarterback on a rookie deal. You want as many great players on the team as possible, both for depth and so that there’s nothing in the way of getting an accurate evaluation of Trey Lance’s abilities going forward.
Instead, the team is telling you that that was never the plan in any way. Instead, they’re pinning their hopes on an inexperienced quarterback, Nick Bosa being healthy for all 17+ games, and the special teams not being among the worst in the league. And that’s if Deebo Samuel can be convinced to stay with the team.
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