When the San Francisco 49ers made a huge trade to move up to No. 3 in this year's NFL draft, the prevailing belief was that the team did so to select a quarterback. That put Jimmy Garoppolo's future in San Francisco in question.
But both general manager John Lynch and head coach Kyle Shanahan told reporters Monday that the plan is to draft a young quarterback and to keep Garoppolo:
Nick Wagoner @nwagoner
#49ers coach Kyle Shanahan said it's accurate that team is planning to keep Jimmy Garoppolo, barring being blown away by offer. Shanahan said he believes it would be hard to find a QB who helps them win right now more than Garoppolo and excited to have a QB learning behind him.
The Niners might be telling the truth when they say they want to keep Garoppolo heading into next season. He's under contract for two more seasons, and the Niners could choose to let a young player develop behind him for the duration of that contract.
Or the Niners are simply putting up a smoke screen, hoping to drive up the price with teams by creating the impression they want to keep Garoppolo. It's rare that a team uses a top-three pick on a young quarterback, only to keep him locked on the bench for a season or two.
NFL players aren't devoid of ego, and trading a flurry of future draft picks to select a young quarterback isn't going to sit well with Garoppolo, who knows he's now on borrowed time in San Francisco. Likewise, a young incoming player isn't going to be thrilled by the notion of sitting a year or two behind Garoppolo.
It has the potential to become pretty awkward, in other words.
Robert Mays @robertmays
@SandoNFL @timkawakami I understand this, in theory, and think it actually makes some sense. But $25 million feels like a very expensive public relations strategy and two 1st-round picks is A LOT to give up for someone who’s gonna spend any time on the bench behind Jimmy Garoppolo.
The Niners traded the No. 12 overall pick in the 2021 NFL draft, a 2021 third-rounder and first-round selections in both 2022 and 2023 to the Miami Dolphins to move up to No. 3. The general expectation is that Trevor Lawrence and Zach Wilson will be the first two picks of this year's draft, leaving the Niners to select between Ohio State's Justin Field, North Dakota State's Trey Lance and Alabama's Mac Jones.
The latest buzz has the Niners targeting Jones:
Peter King of ProFootballTalk reported Monday that Jones "is in the mix" for the Niners, though he added that there is a "cadre of evaluators who do not think Jones is a great quarterback for 2021 football because he's not mobile like a Lance or Wilson."
And a player like Lance might not be as plug-and-play as Jones, but he could have enough enticing long-term potential—and a higher ceiling than a Jones or Fields—that the Niners would be comfortable moving serious draft assets to acquire him, even if it means grooming him for a year or two behind Garoppolo.
So there's a lot of moving pieces in play. One thing is certain—San Francisco is going to draft a quarterback at No. 3. What remains less certain is what that means for Garoppolo.