Garoppolo was unable to accomplish such a feat as Patrick Mahomes and the Chiefs went on to win by a score of 31-20, but it was still an impressive year for the former New England Patriot. Even with Garoppolo missing a few big throws here and there (most notably a deep crossing pattern to Emmanuel Sanders in the Super Bowl), many fans walked away from 2019 under the impression that Jimmy G would be the 49ers’ starting quarterback for the next few seasons.
Fast forward to 2021, and that belief no longer appears valid.
The drafting of Trey Lance all but puts an end to Jimmy Garoppolo’s San Francisco 49ers career
Following a 2020 campaign in which the 49ers missed the playoffs and Garoppolo spent most of the year on the sideline due to injury, head coach Kyle Shanahan and the rest of the San Francisco brain trust acted aggressively and decisively leading into the 2021 NFL Draft.
By trading away multiple first-round picks to the Miami Dolphins, the 49ers were able to acquire the third overall pick, all but guaranteeing their selection of one of the top rookie quarterbacks. Plenty of rumors connected San Francisco to Alabama’s Mac Jones, though they ultimately opted for Trey Lance.
The former North Dakota State quarterback has a cannon, is mobile, and reportedly blew away front offices with his off-the-field smarts — all the signs of a franchise quarterback in the making.
While many analysts have argued that San Francisco shouldn’t hesitate to name Lance QB1 over Garoppolo (it sounds like Lance is having an impressive training camp, as well), at least one former NFL wide receiver believes Garoppolo is still the man for the job.
Former NFL wideout Brandon Marshall believes Jimmy G should remain the 49ers’ starting quarterback in 2021
While benching your No. 3 overall draft pick for Garoppolo may sound irresponsible on paper, Brandon Marshall does have a point regarding the latter potentially being the best option for the 49ers in the now.
During the team’s NFC-winning 2019 season, Garoppolo threw for 27 touchdowns and just under 4,000 yards. More importantly, he orchestrated Shanahan’s run-first offense to near perfection. Garoppolo had no problem handing the ball off 30-plus times per game.
During an era in which NFL quarterbacks are demanding more and more power when it comes to decision-making processes (see: Aaron Rodgers), Garoppolo is a bit of a unicorn.
If Trey Lance wins the starting job, Garoppolo is a likely trade candidate
On the flip side of the discussion, the 49ers spent a plethora of draft capital on Lance and are looking to build around him for the future. Lance has a higher ceiling than Garoppolo and is on a rookie contract, compared to the $26 million Garoppolo is set to make in 2021.
If the 49ers disagree with Marshall and decide Lance is the man for the job, shopping Garoppolo on the trade market would make sense. Plenty of teams would jump at the opportunity to have him.
For example, the Indianapolis Colts are set to be without their starting quarterback (Carson Wentz) for at least five weeks. Bringing in Garoppolo would solve that problem.
Barring something unforeseen happening, the 49ers will likely take the easy way out when it comes to the quarterback position. Garoppolo will start a few games at the beginning of the year before Lance officially assumes QB1 duties.
In reality, San Francisco needs to come to a conclusion during camp. Either commit to Garoppolo like Marshall suggested or go all-in on Lance as the second-coming of Steve Young.
All stats courtesy of Pro Football Reference.