Immediately following the conclusion of the regular season, San Francisco 49ers general manager John Lynch made it clear that both he and head coach Kyle Shanahan expect Jimmy Garoppolo to be starting under center for the team in 2021. However, not all of Niners Nation is sold on “Jimmy G” as the best option going forward.
When asked about Lynch’s recent comments on Garoppolo and the current state of the quarterback position, 49ers legend and NFL Hall of Famer Joe Montana took a telling stance against the incumbent starter.
“I think you always have to be behind the players,” Montana told ESPN’s First Take on Wednesday. “Who knows what’s going on behind the scenes. It’s been tough for him staying healthy throughout the time he’s been with the 49ers and I think that becomes a concern if you can’t keep him on the field. I think it’s a tough decision with the cap money that he has against him, so I don’t know. You just never know. I never knew they were trying to trade me, but I guess they were too. So, you never know what’s going on behind the scenes.”
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Montana Still Foresees Garoppolo Back in San Fran
Since joining the team, the former Patriots second-round pick has missed 23-of-48 regular season contests due to an ACL tear in 2018 and multiple high ankle sprains last season. Nonetheless, Montana believes Garoppolo will be back in the Bay for at least another year barring continued injury problems.
“My guess is that because of his age they will keep him,” Montana also said on First Take, via NBC Sports Bay Area. “They’ll give him another chance at it. That’s just my feeling. … But I think when he’s in there they have pretty good success and are winning and I think they just try to keep him healthy and see what they can get from there and if it continues along this way I imagine they will try to make a change because it’s tough to get any kind of consistency offensively with moving quarterbacks in and out.”
While Montana’s perspective is a reasonable but unglamorous outlook on the situation, Grant Cohn of SI’s All 49ers tweeted that “Joe Cool” shared some much different feelings with him during his Wednesday morning media tour.
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Rumored NFC QB Target Now off the Table for 49ers
Entering the fourth year of his five-year, $137.5 million contract signed in 2018, Garoppolo will account for $26.4 million and $27 million salary hits over the next two respective seasons. However, unlike most megadeals, his $2.8 million dead cap money over the next two years is a very reasonable number should the 49ers choose to trade for an upgrade or outright release the 29-year-old for $23.6 million in cap savings prior to June 1.
As such, San Francisco has been linked to a number of passers around the league in recent weeks and months. Besides the most obvious upgrade in disgruntled Houston Texans star Deshaun Watson, one of the next biggest names circulating was Kirk Cousins, who was even included in this wild three-team trade proposal by NBC Sports’ Peter King last month.
On Wednesday, Vikings general manager Rick Spielman fanned the flames on the Cousins-to-San Fran rumors, telling reporters that Cousins will be sticking with Minnesota in 2021.
“I know there’s a lot of rumors floating around out there, but Kirk Cousins is our quarterback,” Spielman confirmed, per the Vikings. “We felt he played very well, probably the best he’s ever played down that stretch last year in the way he played. So, yeah, Kirk’s our quarterback going forward. Look forward to another year in this system and excited for him and what he’s going to bring to our team next year.”
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Chris Licata is an NFL contributor based in Denver, Colorado. Follow him on Twitter @Chris__Licata or join the Heavy on 49ers Facebook community for the latest out of the Bay Area!