49ers Named a ‘Best’ Landing Spot for Beleaguered Quarterback

Kyle Shanahan

Getty Kyle Shanahan could bring back Jimmy Garoppolo, however unlikely.

San Francisco 49ers backup quarterback Sam Darnold could hit the free agent market next month, but the defending NFC Champions could turn to a familiar face.

Bleacher Report’s Adam Wells suggested Jimmy Garoppolo as a possibility amid the Las Vegas Raiders quarterback’s likely release. Garoppolo will face a two-game suspension next season due to violations of the NFL’s performance enhancing drug policy, likely significantly driving down the cost to sign him.

“Let’s state up front that this one feels very unlikely to happen, but there are reasons not to immediately dismiss it altogether,” Wells wrote in a February 16 story on the “best landing spots” for Garoppolo.

“Among the reasons to be skeptical of a reunion is that Garoppolo seemed okay to leave the 49ers when he referenced ‘a lot of weird situations’ with the organization in the aftermath of Trey Lance being traded to the Dallas Cowboys in the offseason,” Wells continued.

Garoppolo played for the 49ers from 2017 to 2022, which included a Super Bowl and two NFC Championship Game appearances. The Niners tried to move on from him with Lance, the No. 3 pick in the 2021 NFL Draft.

A second chance came for Garoppolo in 2022 when Lance injured his ankle, but Garoppolo also got injured, which gave way to Brock Purdy. Garoppolo left in free agency for Las Vegas after the 2022 season.

“49ers head coach Kyle Shanahan hasn’t publicly said anything negative about Garoppolo, but his actions over the years do indicate he was ready to move on long before it actually happened,” Wells wrote.

“Looking at where things stand with the quarterback depth chart going into 2024, the 49ers need a backup. Sam Darnold and Brandon Allen, their No. 2 and 3 options this season, are set to become free agents,” Wells added.

Jimmy Garoppolo Had Success With 49ers

Garoppolo, who began his career with the New England Patriots in 2014 as a second-round pick, would give the 49ers a player who succeeded before. He had 13,599 yards passing for 82 touchdowns versus 42 interceptions in 57 games with the Niners.

“The only time in his career that Garoppolo has had any sustained success in the NFL was in Shanahan’s system,” Wells wrote.

And that’s what the 49ers could use if Purdy went down and if Allen and Darnold wear different uniforms in 2024. Purdy played all 17 games and throughout the playoffs this past season, but his rookie campaign ended with an elbow injury that took most of the offseason to recover.

San Francisco also doesn’t have much salary cap space to work with — $570,837 per Spotrac’s estimate. Garoppolo has a three-year, $72.75 million deal with the Raiders, but any team is unlikely to come close to that when the Raiders release him.

Jimmy Garoppolo’s Super Bowl Performance Factored into Departure: Analyst

Shanahan arguably made up his mind on Garoppolo when the 49ers blew a 10-point fourth quarter lead in the 2019 Super Bowl. Garoppolo went 20-31 for 219 yards and a touchdown versus two interceptions in the Big Game against the Kansas City Chiefs that year.

“When the 49ers needed Garoppolo to answer Patrick Mahomes in the fourth quarter, he couldn’t finish the job,” The Sporting News’ Dan Treacy wrote on February 11. “The Niners had a chance to effectively put the game away after Mahomes was intercepted while trailing by 10, but the drive ended in a punt that set up a Chiefs scoring drive.”

“San Francisco’s ensuing drive took just 55 seconds off the clock, and Garoppolo was 0-for-2 with an interception when he had 72 seconds to potentially go down the field and win the game,” Treacy added.