Remember the trade deadline in 2017, when John Lynch and Kyle Shanahan pulled off the steal of the century? How they got Jimmy Garoppolo for the low, low price of a second round draft pick that? That was portrayed across the nation as though they grifted a doddering, senior citizen with early onset dementia like a couple of crooked telemarketers draining some lonely spinsters investment accounts. It was the football equivalent of buying Manhattan for $24 in beads and trinkets.
Yeah, about that.
At the time, Garoppolo was a backup quarterback from a small school with a total of six NFL quarters worth of actual game experience. A game and a half in which he'd established a pattern that is, by now, all too familiar. He played lights out - 42 for 59, 496 yards, 4 touchdowns, 0 interceptions, passer ratings of 106.1 and 135.4 - looked handsome as all get out, got injured, missed a game, then showed up the morning of the following week's game and announced he wouldn't be able to go. So an injured rookie Jacoby Brissett played in his stead, the team suffered a shut out loss, after which Brissett underwent surgery on his throwing hand, but with the universal respect of his grateful teammates and coaches.
I bring all this up because four seasons later, Jimmy G has taken the 49ers to the Super Bowl and last year's NFC championship game. They made him the highest paid player in the league at one point. So you'd naturally assume that, given that the 2017 trade was like the Niners finding a Picasso at a garage sale, that they'd be getting a mother lode of draft capital for him this time around. That they'd, at the very least, be talking about those multiple firsts all the career Belichick haters he should've gotten five years ago.
But the rest of the NFL has given the Niners a slightly lower offer. Specifically:
Which brings us to the current situation they find themselves in, almost one month to the day they named Trey Lance their starter. There is no market for a (once again) backup quarterback with an almost $28 million cap hit. And Lynch and Shanahan have painted themselves into a personnel corner:
49ers Web Zone - Head coach Kyle Shanahan gave a very Shanahan answer when asked if Garoppolo might be part of the upcoming roster cuts.
"I don't know what I'll do that day. I'll probably decide when it comes," the coach said.
Shanahan's response, and the way he said it, brought back memories of last year when he said he couldn't guarantee "anybody in the world will be alive Sunday" when asked about Garoppolo's future.
No doubt it hasn't helped at all that someone in the Niners organization has been leaking out info about how toxic Garoppolo has been in San Fran:
At this point, it's hard to imagine anyone cocking this up as badly as Lynch and Shanahan have. They took a viable NFL quarterback and a top-half-of-the-league talent (at the very least), who had tremendous value given the severe supply chain issues when it comes to top-half-of-the-league quarterbacks, and turned him into a distressed asset. Step by step by misstep, every decision they've made has devalued Jimmy G, from the moment they swung a very expensive trade to move up and get Lance. Wanting to move on from Garoppolo is one thing. But by not trading him right away (or perhaps throwing him in on the deal for that Lance pick), they gave away all their leverage. They guaranteed they'd be the highly motivated sellers, and created a buyer's market. Which is the worst situation to find yourself in when no one is buying, and you have property you can't keep.
In a matter of days, if not hours, Garoppolo is going to be carried down to the end of the Niners' driveway and left there with a cardboard sign reading, "FREE FRANCHISE QB" on him. It's a situation of their own making. And now that 2018 second rounder looks like a steal in the other direction.