The San Francisco 49ers have several options at the quarterback position moving forward, including parting ways with veteran starter Jimmy Garoppolo for what could be argued as the future good of the team.
Trade rumors and proposals are swirling throughout the NFL universe as the league’s November 2 trade deadline draws near, and many of them are outlandish or far-fetched, to say the least. However, Bleacher Report Gridiron has positioned itself as promoting the thinking man’s (or woman’s) trade machine, releasing proposals that seek to bend the mind while also remaining within its grasp.
One such proposal released this week followed an emerging trend of trade talk surrounding the Niners, which has centered around moving on from Garoppolo while his trade value remains relatively strong.
The “wild trade idea that makes sense,” as B/R Gridiron billed it, would send Garoppolo to the Houston Texans for a 3rd-round pick.
The winless Texans are arguably the league’s worst franchise this season, as former Pro-Bowl QB Deshaun Watson remains a healthy scratch from the lineup each week due to off the field issues that keep his future availability, not to mention his future freedom, an open question.
Houston’s sustained level of incompetence translates into potentially the No. 1 pick in the 2022 NFL draft, which would also mean the first pick in the 3rd round. That’s what B/R is suggesting the Niners should give up Garoppolo to get.
What is Garoppolo’s True Trade Value?
The idea of trading away a bonafide starting QB for a high 3rd-round pick opens an interesting discussion on the actual trade value of Garoppolo.
Fans of the long-time starter, who led the Niners to a 10-point 4th quarter lead in a Super Bowl just two years ago, would likely say if a 3rd-round selection is all the team can get then San Francisco may as well just keep Garoppolo in-house.
Even when Lance eventually replaces him, which is an inevitability considering what the Niners gave up to draft the 21-year-old rookie (three 1st-round selections and a conditional 3rd-round choice), the game of football remains ever a violent crapshoot.
Head coach Kyle Shanahan has already shown in Lance’s brief time on the field that he plans to use the 6-foot, 4-inch, 225-pound QB extensively in the run game. In one career start, plus a smattering of a few random series, Lance has rushed the ball 27 times for a total of 133 yards and 1 TD, according to Pro Football Reference.
Garoppolo would be the best security blanket in football. However, he represents a $27 million cap hit in 2022, also making him far and away the most expensive security blanket in the league, per Spotrac. We can all appreciate the value of a high thread count, but at a certain point the discussion becomes ridiculous.
Niners Would Get Top Value From Contenders in Need of a QB
Garoppolo’s salary juxtaposed with his injury history (he’s missed 24 of 53 possible regular season starts since signing his new deal in 2018) doesn’t necessarily make him a good long-term bet. He’s also likely to demand a sizable contract when he comes up for a new deal heading into the 2023 season.
As such, the Niners would find the greatest value for Garoppolo dealing with contending teams who could use a reliable veteran to improve their odds of a Super Bowl appearance this season. One team that immediately comes to mind is the Cleveland Browns, where Baker Mayfield is dealing with a fracture to his non-throwing shoulder.
Even before the extent of Mayfield’s injury was known, trade machines were floating the idea of Garoppolo to Cleveland, bringing back former All-Pro wide receiver Odell Beckham in return. The notion of trading Garoppolo for a proven asset who could help Lance immediately has a strong internal logic to it, but supporters of the veteran starter might say instead the Niners should simply play out the Garoppolo string and give Lance time to develop.
Whether a Garoppolo departure prior to the NFL’s trade deadline less than a week and a half from now actually is for the good of the team where this season is concerned remains a point of considerable contention. There are two schools of thought on the issue.
The first is that veteran leadership can help the 49ers navigate a tough division and conference to find its way back to the postseason as a mid- to low-seed. Let’s be honest, the Niners are a wildcard team at best with all their injuries, but anything can happen once the playoffs begin.
The second school of thought involves embracing the trope that “the future is now,” and letting Lance develop via trial by fire. If that results in a playoff berth this season, great. If not, the Niners return healthy next season with a dual-threat QB ready to lead San Francisco back to the promised land.
Whichever way the Niners decide to go, we’ll know within the next nine days.