We know a few things for sure. Without speculating. First, that in 2017 the 49ers paid the huge price of a second round draft pick plus the incomparable Brian Hoyer to get Jimmy Garoppolo and make him their franchise quarterback. Second, that trade paid dividends as he went 5-0 as a starter for them. Next that he missed all but three games the following year, led San Francisco to the Super Bowl while not missing a game last year.
Then we know that GM John Lynch seriously considered making a play for Tom Brady this past offseason. We know that because the source on that report was GM John Lynch. On the record. Admitting that he gave legitimate thought for signing another quarterback to replace the guy who just won his franchise a conference championship, and only the age difference between the two convinced him to stick with Jimmy G.
We also know that Garoppolo got benched last week after playing like ... well, like Brian Hoyer. But for considerably more money.
Kyle Shanahan said he was just trying to protect his starter who was gutting it out through an ankle injury. Which is an odd claim given that Garoppolo wasn't on the final injury report. Fine. So let's assume he's telling the truth and San Fran broke the rules about lying on the report. That doesn't explain everything. Like his inability to carry his team when they have to throw the ball a lot, the way the true franchise QBs do:
NY Post - The 49ers are a run-first offense, and like the Ravens, they thrive playing with the lead. But when forced to play from behind, Garoppolo looks more like an average system QB. The 49ers are 16-6 since 2019 in Garoppolo’s starts, but in games where he has thrown 31 or more passes, they are just 5-4, including their Super Bowl loss to the Chiefs. He totally unraveled on Sunday and didn’t even get a chance to throw that many passes, as he was benched in the second half for C.J. Beathard.
Or something I hadn't realized until now. That for all that guaranteed money he got, his deal is structured in such a way that, if the Niners are looking to move on from him, this would be the season to do it. (Same source):
Still, one has to wonder what Garoppolo’s future looks like in San Francisco after his roughest outing yet. The 49ers signed him to a five-year, $137 million contract in 2018, but they have a relatively easy out after 2020 with no guaranteed money left on his deal. If they want to return to the Super Bowl, they might need a QB who can take them over the top – instead of one that, at best, can only gently guide them there.
Listen, I think it's pure lunacy to want to jettison the pod so soon on a quarterback who had you up 20-10 in the 3rd quarter of a Super Bowl. Even if he had a chance to retake the lead and went Punt, Punt, Downs, Interception in the 4th quarter. Guys capable of getting you that close to the sun aren't just sitting around on other team's rosters waiting to obtained. (OK, this one was on the 2017 Patriots roster. I concede that point. But it's rare.) And I'm not about to call a guy who gets hit by 330 pound defensive tackles "injury prone," or question his durability when I'm a grown man who earns a living by writing blogs about a grown man "fixin' to blow up" the Wichita Home Depot bathroom with his ass and comparing him to Richard Jewel. So I'm not the arbiter of what toughness is.
But it's not like there's nothing here. Even if you take this report as pure speculation, the Niners did look a gift GOAT in the mouth last spring. They did structure his contract in such a way as to give themselves an out. And while it might be harsh to say Jimmy G is a system QB who seems to need ideal conditions and perfect health in order to succeed, it is starting to look like that's a possibility. Or that San Francisco is starting to think that way. If in the next few weeks, Garoppolo isn't listed as Out and CJ Beathard still gets the start, this will be a lot more than just speculation. It'll logical assumption. Stay tuned.