The 49ers Have Longer Than You Think to Figure Out the Expensive Jimmy Garoppolo Problem

Just a few short years ago, the San Francisco 49ers made Jimmy Garoppolo the highest-paid player in the NFL, signing him to a five-year/$137.5 million deal less than a year after stealing him from the New England Patriots.

But Garoppolo is no longer the league’s highest-paid player — not even close, really. And he’s also no longer the 49ers’ starting quarterback, despite winning close to 70% of his starts since coming to town and leading San Francisco to a Super Bowl and an NFC Championship Game in the last three years.

The franchise has made it crystal clear that the Trey Lance era has begun, and make no mistake about it — one way or another, Jimmy G won’t be wearing a 49ers uniform when the 2022 season begins.

A trade is still possible, especially if another team’s starter goes down in the coming weeks, but the more likely option is that Garoppolo is released.

But the Niners have more time than you might expect to figure things out.

The 49ers have until the day before their season opener to cut Jimmy Garoppolo without paying him

Jimmy Garoppolo ahead of a 49ers-Packers playoff matchup in January 2022
Quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo of the San Francisco 49ers warms up prior to the NFC Divisional Playoff game against the Green Bay Packers at Lambeau Field on January 22, 2022 | Patrick McDermott/Getty Images

Most believe the 49ers are required to cut Jimmy Garoppolo when the NFL requires all 32 teams to cut rosters to 53 on August 30. And while that still could happen, that’s not a firm deadline for San Francisco.

If John Lynch and Kyle Shanahan are willing to include Jimmy G on the 53-man roster, the franchise can continue their wait-and-see operation for another dozen days or so.

Garoppolo’s $24.2 million base salary and $750,000 roster bonus for the 2022 NFL season become guaranteed if he’s on the Week 1 roster. But that roster doesn’t have to be locked in until Saturday, September 10, at 4:00 p.m. Eastern, the day before the Niners kick off their season in Chicago against the Bears.

As long as San Francisco cuts the 30-year-old before then, they’re off the hook. Sure, they’d still take a $2 million dead cap hit, but that’s a small price to pay for ridding themselves of a $25 million backup.

And let’s face it, plenty can happen between now and September 10. There’s another week of preseason games and then another full week of practice.

So what if something happens to another team’s starter, and San Francisco gets nothing for Garoppolo? And what if something happens to Trey Lance between August 30 and September 10? The 49ers would look quite foolish if they cut him too early, only to have their young savior go down, wouldn’t they?

Stats courtesy of Pro Football Reference, Contract info courtesy of Spotrac

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