49ers Warned Against Trading Jimmy Garoppolo After Broncos’ Collapse

Jimmy Garoppolo

Getty Jimmy Garoppolo #10 of the San Francisco 49ers reacts during the third quarter against the Dallas Cowboys in the NFC Wild Card Playoff game at AT&T Stadium on January 16, 2022 in Arlington, Texas.

As the San Francisco 49ers begin their 2022 offseason, there’s been push and pull from the fanbase on what should happen to quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo.

Some of the Niner faithful believe Jimmy G has played well enough to stick around, and that the team’s two NFC Championship visits and run to Super Bowl LIV are signs that San Francisco already has the right guy.

On the other side, there are some ready to see the 29-year-old leave. The 49ers already placed their bet on rookie Trey Lance in the 2021 NFL draft, and San Francisco needs to move forward with the promising quarterback.

This scenario reminded Sports Illustrated’s Clark Judge of one he’s seen before: the Denver Broncos under Mike Shanahan. Besides the obvious connection to 49ers head coach Kyle Shanahan, Judge wrote about how the Broncos ditched their quarterback Jake Plummer despite reaching the 2005 AFC Championship with him in favor of a new, young QB in Jay Cutler.

“The move [to trade up for Trey Lance,]” Judge said. “Like Denver’s 15 years earlier, is designed to make them more Super Bowl-ready with an inexperienced quarterback who reportedly has a high football IQ, takes care of the football and can move the chains in a myriad of ways. And maybe it does. But it didn’t work out for Mike Shanahan, and it may not work out for his son.

“‘Those that fail to learn from history,’ Winston Churchill wrote, ‘are doomed to repeat it.’

Consider that a warning.”

The move to Cutler was one that started a period from 2006 to 2011 that Denver was absent from the playoffs after making it the previous three seasons with Plummer. Until the arrival of NFL Hall of Famer Peyton Manning, the Broncos were far from their heights in the 1990s and 2010s.

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With Garoppolo, 49ers Just Win

One of the eye-catching parts of Judge’s warning was mentioning Plummer’s record with the Broncos before they moved on to the younger, up-and-coming Cutler. Plummer was 39-15 as a Bronco despite not being a spectacular quarterback.

In fact, Plummer’s career numbers are far worse than Garoppolo’s, with the former Arizona Cardinal twice leading the NFL in interceptions. His winning record feels similar to the former Bronco, going 35-16 as a Niner in the regular season and playoffs.

Conversely, San Francisco is 8-28 in the games Jimmy G has missed due to injury since he joined the franchise in 2017. The splits certainly point toward Garoppolo’s presence being a major factor in the Niners’ chances.

“[Garoppolo’s critics] lost sight of the bigger picture, and that is this: The only numbers that matter are victories, and Jimmy G produced a raft of them,” Judge wrote.

Garoppolo Appears Ready to Leave

While the example of the Broncos, Mike Shanahan and Plummer is certainly telling, San Francisco does appear set to trade Jimmy G. On February 1, Kyle Shanahan and general manager John Lynch kept things vague, but Garoppolo outright said that he had spoke with Lynch about prospective locations for a trade.

He added that he wants to go somewhere that “wants to win,” but the strongest signifier that he’s on his way out of San Francisco was his “final message” to the fanbase.

“To the faithful,” Garoppolo said. “Thank you very much for everything. It’s been crazy man. All the comebacks at Levi’s, the comebacks on the road, ups and downs, it’s been a hell of a ride. I love you guys. See ya.”

The 49ers and Garoppolo may be open to keeping the QB around for another year or longer, but that certainly isn’t the current plan.

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Tony Roumell
Tony Roumell
6 months ago

Lance needs 2-3- seasons to get seasoned. Steve Young said that Lance needs a mature quarterback to mentor and help him develop NFL skills. If Shanahan and Lynch start him next season believing that this is the quickest route to a SB, they should be fired. It is not. That’s a pipe dream beyond normal thinking and comprehension. Lance is not ready and won’t be able to live up to team expectations. Oh, and they already have a seasoned QB who can mentor him. Oh, and he has a better winning percentage than Aaron Rodgers. I think the Niners need to begin to think in terms of finding a new coach, not a new QB. Shanahan is 8-28 without Jimmy G., and he wants to trade him? Stupid stuff. Garappolo has consistently been in the top five QB rankings since becoming a starter for San Francisco, and Lynch and Shanahan want to trade him. They’re completely insane. Chopping $25M of the cap will cost them ten times more in the long run.

Highest win pct since 2016*
Patrick Mahomes .792
Tom Brady .788
Lamar Jackson .717
Jimmy Garoppolo .706
Aaron Rodgers .676
*min. 50 starts, including postseason

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