Thoughts on Jimmy Garoppolo and the 49ers
The San Francisco 49ers have had a rough couple of years. Ever since Jim Harbaugh was driven away, the team has gone 7-33, and ran two more head coaches out of town. The Jim Tomsula experiment wasn’t great, but the team did manage to win 5 games with an aging roster and a resurgent Blaine Gabbert. The performance left a lot to be desired by the front office, who proceeded to fire Tomsula after one year, and bring in Chip Kelly, who had been run out of Philadelphia. The only positive thing that came out of the Chip Kelly era in San Francisco was the 49ers landing the second pick in the draft after going 2-14. Kelly was fired after one season, and the reigns were handed over to Kyle Shanahan, the offensive guru from the NFC Champion Atlanta Falcons. The team also switched GM’s, and hired John Lynch.
The two were both given 5-year deals, making them feel more comfortable in rebuilding, and not putting pressure on winning right now. They both have the security needed to be able to build a solid foundation and fully infuse their system with young talent. They had a great draft and landed Solomon Thomas, and Reuben Foster, both of them have the potential to wreak havoc against opposing offenses for years to come.
The one thing the 49ers desperately needed was a franchise quarterback. In the offseason, John Lynch signed Brian Hoyer, knowing he would just act as a stand-in until the team had a franchise quarterback to build the offense around. He was signed because he had worked with Kyle Shanahan before, and had been a very consistent, mediocre quarterback throughout his whole career. He was able to throw for decent yardage, with minimal interceptions. This, of course, was the opposite of what happened in San Francisco, as he was significantly worse than in years past. He had a completion percentage of 58%, while throwing for 1,245 yards, 4 touchdowns, and 4 interceptions. The yardage was very impressive considering how he became allergic to throwing to wide receivers, and only threw to tight ends and running backs. He was taken out of the starting lineup, and replaced by CJ Beathard, who has not been great. He has a passer rating of 65.2, and has only 2 TDs for his 3 INTs. It was clear that he was not the QB of the future.
The hottest commodity on the market has been Jimmy Garoppolo for two seasons now. When Tom Brady was suspended last year, he stepped up in his absence and looked great, putting up Brady-like numbers. There were rumors surrounding him all of last season, all throughout the offseason, and continuing into this year. The rumors were primarily directed at the Browns, who haven’t had a franchise quarterback for their entire existence. It was widely reported that the Patriots would hang onto Garoppolo as long as they could, and they were not expected to trade him.
Enter the 0-8 49ers, in desperate need for a quarterback to build around. The negotiations were quick, lasting less than a day, and the team sent a second-round draft pick to New England for the quarterback. The move surprised many, and has the potential to shake up the league for years to come.
The 49ers now are in an even better position heading into the draft this year. Kyle Shanahan will have 6 months to work with Garoppolo, and see if he can adapt to the system and be a long-term solution at quarterback, and if he is, the team has flexibility with their first-round draft pick. Kyle Shanahan does not know if he will let Garoppolo play in games this year, which could be smart, allowing the team to still have a top-3 draft pick when the season comes to a close. They will have the ability to do many things with that pick, either holding onto it and acquiring a top tier player like Saquon Barkley, or they could trade it for a package of draft picks and players. Many teams will be salivating uncontrollably at the chance to grab one of the many quarterbacks entering the draft this year, and could create a huge bidding war at the 49ers benefit.
If Garoppolo does not fit well with the system, then the Niners will be able to use their top pick on a potential franchise quarterback. Either way, this trade is a win-win. The 49ers got a potential franchise quarterback who learned under Tom Brady and Bill Belichick, for a second round pick, and they still have another second round pick in the draft. I think that this move was excellent, and it just goes to show that the 49ers are headed in the right direction under the direction of Kyle Shanahan and John Lynch.
This move will also potentially change the draft class. The player that is seen as the best man in the draft is Sam Darnold out of USC, but he has yet to decide if he will head to the NFL after this year, and if I had to guess, I would say that if the 49ers think Garoppolo is good and extend him, then Darnold will stay at USC for another year, because if he heads to the NFL, then he is likely going to the Cleveland Browns, the sunken place for aspiring young quarterbacks.
I think that this move was great, and has the potential to have the 49ers on the right track to being a winning team again. This kind of move makes me incredibly happy to have guys like John Lynch and Kyle Shanahan running the show.