NFL Rumors: Jimmy Garoppolo Linked to Falcons, Texans When He Leaves 49ers in FA

Mike Chiari@@mikechiariFeatured Columnist IVFebruary 4, 2023

MEXICO CITY, MEXICO - NOVEMBER 21: Jimmy Garoppolo #10 of the San Francisco 49ers passes the ball during the first half of a game against the Arizona Cardinals at Estadio Azteca on November 21, 2022 in Mexico City, Mexico. (Photo by Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images)
Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images

Quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo will reportedly be of interest to multiple teams when he hits free agency this offseason.

Appearing Saturday on SportsCenter, ESPN NFL insider Jeremy Fowler said Jimmy G will be "one of the key free agents" at the quarterback position if the likes of Lamar Jackson, Daniel Jones and Geno Smith are retained by their current teams, as is anticipated.

When discussing possible destinations, Fowler brought up the Atlanta Falcons, whose offense has similar elements to the San Francisco 49ers' under head coach Kyle Shanahan.

Fowler also mentioned the Houston Texans, whose new head coach, DeMeco Ryans, is coming off a six-year run in San Francisco, including the past two as defensive coordinator. Texans general manager Nick Caserio was also the New England Patriots' director of player personnel when they drafted Garoppolo in 2014.

Despite leading the 49ers to the Super Bowl in 2019 and an NFC Championship Game appearance in 2021, Garoppolo entered 2022 as the backup to 2021 No. 3 overall draft pick Trey Lance.

He seemed likely to be traded elsewhere prior to the 2022 season, but the Niners ultimately kept him as a veteran backup.

The move paid dividends, as Lance suffered an ankle injury in Week 2 that ended his season, pressing Jimmy G back into action as the starter.

Garoppolo, 31, would make 10 starts, going 7-3 and completing 67.2 percent of his passes for 2,437 yards, 16 touchdowns and four interceptions.

The 49ers were looking like a Super Bowl contender with Garoppolo at the controls, but he too was lost for the season with a Lisfranc injury in his foot.

Rookie seventh-round pick Brock Purdy went 5-0 as a starter in Garoppolo's place during the regular season and won two playoff games before suffering a UCL injury in his throwing elbow in an NFC Championship Game loss to the Philadelphia Eagles.

After the season, 49ers coach Kyle Shanahan said he didn't "see any scenario" in which Garoppolo could return to the team.

Jimmy G's stats have often left something to be desired. He has never thrown for 4,000 yards in a season and has reached the 20-touchdown mark only twice, but he is a proven winner.

Garoppolo is an impressive 40-17 in his career, he won a Super Bowl as a backup with the Patriots and nearly won another as the 49ers' starter.

Rebuilding teams looking to bridge the gap from now to a young franchise quarterback in the future could be great landing spots for him, and both the Falcons and Texans fit the bill.

Marcus Mariota largely struggled as the Falcons' starting quarterback in 2022, which resulted in Smith turning to rookie third-round pick Desmond Ridder during the season's final month.

Ridder went 2-2 and played mistake-free football with no interceptions, so he may be the starter in 2022, but Garoppolo would be a quality stopgap if the Falcons aren't fully sold.

The Texans seem ready to move on from Davis Mills and draft their quarterback of the future this year, as they own the No. 2 overall pick in the 2023 NFL draft and figure to take one of Alabama's Bryce Young, Ohio State's C.J. Stroud or Kentucky's Will Levis.

If Houston would prefer to not start a rookie out of the gates next season, though, Garoppolo could keep the seat warm and ensure the Texans are competitive in the interim as well.