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49ers insist Jimmy Garoppolo unlikely to be traded, but that would set up a very unusual situation

Frank Schwab
·3 min read
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The San Francisco 49ers made a big move to get the third pick of the draft, and it's no secret they're going to pick a quarterback.

But on Monday, 49ers coach Kyle Shanahan and general manager John Lynch insisted that Garoppolo won't be traded.

"We got a guy in here that we know we can win with," Shanahan said, via David Lombardi of The Athletic.

If Garoppolo isn't traded it would set up a practically unprecedented situation in this era of NFL football, no matter who starts. Players with a cap hit like Garoppolo don't sit. Rookies drafted as high as No. 3 don't sit anymore either.

It could happen that both will be on the roster. It would just be unusual.

Rookie first-round QBs rarely sit

In 2004, Philip Rivers was the fourth pick of the NFL draft and didn't make a start. He sat behind Drew Brees.

Since then, the only rookie quarterback to be drafted in the top 20 and not make a start as a rookie was Jake Locker, the eighth overall pick of the 2011 draft. Sitting all year really didn't help him much.

Rookie quarterbacks play these days. The only rookies drafted in the first round since 2005 (the year Aaron Rodgers went to the Packers) and not make at least one start their first year are Locker, Brady Quinn and Jordan Love. That's three players in 15 drafts, and Locker was the only one drafted even close to No. 3.

Patrick Mahomes is a reasonable comparison, but he got a start in Week 17 his rookie season. He was also the 10th pick, not No. 3 overall. And if you believe Mahomes is good because he sat most of his rookie season, that's confirmation bias, not reality. Mahomes would have been good no matter how much he played as a rookie. Rookie quarterbacks like Carson Palmer used to sit a full year to learn. VHS was popular then too.

Either the No. 3 pick is going to sit behind Garoppolo, or the 49ers will pass on getting something of value back for Garoppolo in a trade and have him and his $26.4 million cap hit on the bench. No matter who starts in that scenario, it's pretty much unheard of in the current NFL.

The 49ers say Jimmy Garoppolo won't be traded. (AP Photo/Tony Avelar)
The 49ers say Jimmy Garoppolo won't be traded. (AP Photo/Tony Avelar)

Will the 49ers really hold onto Jimmy G?

There's nothing wrong with unconventional thinking, though keeping Garoppolo and either Justin Fields or Zach Wilson around would be unconventional. Shanahan said the team plans to do it though. He said he is comfortable with Garoppolo, knows the 49ers can win with him — after all, had the 49ers' defense defended "2-3 Jet Chip Wasp" better, Garoppolo would have a Super Bowl ring as a starter — and he doesn't want to start a rookie right away.

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Maybe that will look logical by the end of the year. Backup quarterbacks are always valuable. Maybe not $26.4 million cap hit valuable, or No. 3 overall pick valuable, but they have value. The 49ers struggled last season due to injuries, and the key injury was to Garoppolo.

It feels like some negotiating in the media, to drive up the trade price for Garoppolo now that teams know the 49ers don't have a ton of leverage. But maybe it's genuine. It would just cause a situation we haven't seen in many, many years. No matter how it turns out.

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