Jimmy Garoppolo's 49ers contract opens up more questions than answers

·3 min read

Maiocco: Jimmy G's pay cut opens up more questions than answers originally appeared on NBC Sports Bayarea

Quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo was medically cleared to practice on the day he reported to training camp in late July.

However, he did not practice.

He did not sit in on meetings.

He was not issued any updated practice material.

The 49ers held out hope that Garoppolo would be traded at some point this summer after the decision was made to turn the offense over to second-year player Trey Lance.

Garoppolo had fallen so far out of mind that he was listed as No. 4 on the 49ers’ depth chart.

“If he’s on the depth chart, it’s because he has to be,” 49ers coach Kyle Shanahan said of Garoppolo on Aug. 9.

Well, the sides decided to continue their union on Monday. Garoppolo took a pay cut of nearly $18 million to remain with the 49ers. With the stroke of a pen on his new contract, Garoppolo rose to No. 2 on the depth chart.

Obviously, he believes he has a strong chance to regain his status as the team’s starter sooner than later to set himself up as an unrestricted free agent at the end of the season.

Garoppolo weighed his options, and felt his best chance to get on the field and succeed was by remaining in the Bay Area.

The 49ers gave Garoppolo permission to seek a trade in the spring. He and his representation have been able to discuss dollar amounts with any interested teams.

The 49ers did not need to release him in order for him to negotiate with other teams. So he knew what he would have been paid if he were to go to another team.

The Seattle Seahawks were seen as a possible destination with their unimpressive pair of quarterbacks, Geno Smith and Drew Lock. But the Seahawks would likely have a difficult time winning games this season with any quarterback.

The Cleveland Browns might have entertained signing Garoppolo to open the season as Jacoby Brissett’s insurance policy. And while the Browns have a strong roster, any quarterback there would be merely a placeholder until Deshaun Watson returned from a suspension of at least 11 games for violating the league’s policy on personal conduct.

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It has been an up-and-down training camp and preseason for Lance. He flashed big-play potential with his arm and legs. He also failed to consistently connect on routine throws.

The 49ers strengthened their quarterback position on Monday while also applying more pressure on Lance to come out and immediately perform and win games.

If the 49ers lose a couple of games and Lance experiences some problems, there will most certainly be a movement for Garoppolo to return to the starting lineup.

After all, when Garoppolo steps on the field, the 49ers have won a lot of games since his arrival in the middle of the 2017 season.

However, the timing of this new contract does not provide Garoppolo with the best chance to succeed this season.

He took zero practice snaps with the 49ers this season. He was seen throughout training cap throwing on the side with a program designed to rebuild strength in his surgically repaired shoulder.

Now, Garoppolo will not be getting much practice time, either. Once training camp concludes, the starting quarterback takes all of the first-team reps. The backup is relegated to running the plays of the opposition as part of the scout team against the 49ers’ first-team defense.

Yes, the 49ers’ quarterback situation is stronger than it was when the day began.

But there might be more questions than ever about Lance and Garoppolo, Garoppolo and Lance.

The 49ers are set up to win now. And Garoppolo's decision to accept a pay cut to remain with the organization is an indication he believes he is just the man to get it done.

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