The San Francisco 49ers made a recent blockbuster move, trading up to draft Trey Lance. This leaves the 49ers with a multitude of potential outcomes moving forward with Jimmy Garoppolo. Kyle Shanahan has stated that Garoppolo is currently the starter. However, this could easily change if Lance shows signs of encouragement in training camp or the preseason. There are three potential outcomes for the 49ers and Garoppolo.
Garoppolo Agrees to a Restructured Contract
The 49ers do not have a lot of salary cap space in 2022. This is in large part due to Garoppolo’s contract. The 49ers have young players they have to prioritize re-signing in the future. The timeline for a restructure would be anytime from now until roughly training camp. The 49ers and Garoppolo coming to terms on a restructure would help the 49ers against the cap. This would give them a better opportunity to reach a long-term contract extension with a core player like Fred Warner. A restructure would also benefit Garoppolo. It would ensure him a fully guaranteed salary for the 2021 season. His salary being fully guaranteed means a spot on the 49ers roster is a lock for him.
The option to restructure is also logical because Garoppolo has not consistently played up to the level he has shown. Garoppolo is a respectable quarterback who has a great record as a starter. Unfortunately, he has struggled to remain healthy which has been his biggest problem. This outcome of a restructure is the most logical.
Garoppolo would put himself in a position where he is essentially the guaranteed starter for the 49ers this season. He will be motivated to play his best knowing that the organization has added his inevitable replacement. The 49ers also have him under contract for 2022. This means if Garoppolo plays his best this season with new motivation his trade value would increase. This would be great for the 49ers because they would be able to gain back some draft capital they just lost.
No Re-Worked Contract
The situation could play itself out with no changes. The 49ers may not offer a restructure. Garoppolo and his agent could also decline an offer to restructure. This situation leaves Garoppolo with more to lose at any point before the regular season. This is because his salary becomes fully guaranteed once the regular season starts. Essentially, the 49ers could release him at any point before the regular season and lose nothing on their end. A release would come about simply if Lance progresses faster than expected in training camp and makes plays in the preseason. This would also help the 49ers immediately with the salary cap.
However, Garoppolo could still win in this situation. If he plays his best yet throughout training camp and the preseason he does give the 49ers their best chance to win this year. Lance is a young, raw prospect who played one game in 2020. Garoppolo could handle this situation the same way Alex Smith and Aaron Rodgers have when Patrick Mahomes and Jordan Love were drafted to eventually replace them. If Garoppolo plays his best this season and the 49ers make another run at a Super Bowl he will have a strong market through a trade. This is the second-most likely potential outcome in this situation for the 49ers and Garoppolo.
Lance Does Enough or Wins the Job Outright
Lance lacks experience and it leads to concern. It makes sense to ease him in as a young rookie and give him time as opposed to rushing him despite any early success he may attain. However, he essentially did not play last season as a result of Covid-19 delaying the FCS season. This leads to concern that not playing two years in a row may not be a great option. If Lance makes exciting plays right away it may be enough for the 49ers to go with him to start the regular season.
On the other hand, raw quarterbacks with great physical traits and upside have recently shown the ability to play early on. If Lance shows just some promise before the regular season and there is an injury to a starting quarterback of another team it could lead to a Garoppolo trade. This would be similar to what the Philadelphia Eagles did in 2016. They traded Sam Bradford right before the season and decided to go with Carson Wentz when he was a rookie. Lastly, Lance may show his special talent from the jump which would give the 49ers no choice but to play him. A similar type of situation took place in 2012 when Russell Wilson beat out Matt Flynn.
Whether it is Garoppolo or Lance, the 49ers will have big expectations this season. Ideally, the 49ers will allow Lance to sit this year and gain experience. As of now, Garoppolo does give the 49ers the best chance to win in 2021. The 49ers are probably hoping Garoppolo is motivated, plays his best and the team ends up winning games this season. This would work well for the 49ers and Garoppolo. It would lead to a strong trade market. It guarantees Garoppolo that he will have a starting job. Also, this would give the 49ers their best chance to recoup some of the draft capital they just gave up. It will be fascinating to see what the outcome of this situation is.
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