Even San Francisco 49ers head coach Kyle Shanahan is surprised Jimmy Garoppolo is still with the team.
After the team and veteran quarterback agreed to a reworked one-year contract that is worth approximately $7 million but could reach $16 million with incentives, Shanahan opened up about the deal.
"We were always clear to Jimmy that salary cap-wise and a backup role and supporting Trey and that if that worked for him, that was a no-brainer for us," he said, per Nick Wagoner of ESPN. "We just didn't think the chances of that were gonna happen. And it ended up being that way. And so, when it was all said and done, even though it was pretty shocking to us, we thought it was a win-win for both sides."
A trade was never going to be easy considering Garoppolo's shoulder was a question mark after surgery and many teams were already settled at the quarterback position. Given that and the reality that the 49ers had moved ahead with Trey Lance as the starter, Shanahan felt teams were simply waiting them out.
"To me, it seems like everyone was just waiting for us to cut him so they could see how much they could get him for," the coach said. "But once the last Saturday preseason game happened and no one got injured, then Jimmy thought this was his best situation that he liked. And that's why we were so pumped because it's obviously a better situation for the Niners."
Garoppolo will back up Lance when San Francisco takes the field for its season opener against the Chicago Bears on Sept. 11.
It remains a tricky situation, though, since Lance is unproven and the veteran is 31-14 as a starter for the 49ers. Garoppolo led them to the Super Bowl during the 2019 campaign and the NFC Championship Game this past season.
Shanahan said Lance had "no problems" with the decision to bring Garoppolo back, but there will surely be question marks if the 22-year-old struggles in the early going.
The bottom line is the ceiling is higher when Lance is under center. He can make plays as a runner in addition to his passing, and he was the No. 3 overall pick of the 2021 NFL draft for a reason. Garoppolo has been more of a game manager who relies on his teammates to make the plays rather than taking it all upon himself.
But that formula has also led to plenty of success for the 49ers of late. Whether Shanahan is tempted to return to it if Lance struggles remains to be seen.