Jimmy Garoppolo's status as the San Francisco 49ers' quarterback may not be safe heading into the 2021 season.
"Garoppolo's injuries certainly complicate the picture. Kyle Shannahan, the coach said, he believes Garoppolo will be the quarterback in 2021, but he says he can't say it with certainty. Most league insiders believe if there's a better option, the 49ers will have somebody other than Garoppolo at the start of next season," ESPN's Chris Mortensen said on Sunday NFL Countdown.
Garoppolo has compiled a 22-8 record as a starter since being traded to the 49ers midway through the 2017 season. However, he's dealt with a barrage of injuries during that time and has topped out as a solid-but-unspectacular game manager when he's been healthy.
The 49ers' options to replace Garoppolo are unclear. They are currently slotted for the 15th overall pick in the 2021 draft, which will almost certainly take them out of the running for Trevor Lawrence, Justin Fields and Zach Wilson (and potentially Trey Lance), the draft's top quarterbacks.
While San Francisco could trade up for a quarterback of the future, its roster is built for immediate contention, and the team would most likely prefer a veteran replacement or Garoppolo.
The most natural fit would be Matt Ryan, who won the NFL MVP in 2016 with Kyle Shanahan as his offensive coordinator. The Falcons could be headed toward a rebuild under new management, but Ryan's contract ($49.1 million dead cap hit) makes it borderline impossible to trade him—especially given Atlanta's expected cap woes in 2021.
The 49ers could be a trade fit for Carson Wentz, whose time in Philadelphia appears drawing to a close after the emergence of Jalen Hurts. That said, Wentz also has significant guaranteed money remaining on his contract, and it's unclear if he's a better option than Garoppolo after a nightmare 2020.
If Wentz proves to be the 49ers' best option, they'd probably choose to run it back with Garoppolo and take a quarterback in the second or third round they hope can develop into a long-term replacement.