The 49ers had a chance to win the Super Bowl, or at least to take a 27-24 lead with roughly 90 seconds left. Quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo missed an open Emmanuel Sanders for a touchdown, part of a fourth quarter during which Garoppolo completed three of 11 passes with one interception and a paltry passer rating of 2.8.
On Thursday, coach Kyle Shanahan made it clear that Garoppolo is still his guy. At least for 2021.
“I think Jimmy is one of the main reasons we got to the Super Bowl,” Shanahan told reporters. “I think he overcame a lot. This was his first year in his career going through an entire NFL season. He still doesn’t have as many starts and stuff as [Browns quarterback] Baker Mayfield. I think he had a hell of a first year truly playing the position, especially coming off an ACL where you have to fight through that a ton as a quarterback, where your rhythm and everything is not there at the beginning of the year. For him to be like that and to not let the pressure get to him, and to improve as the year went, I think says a ton about Jimmy. I can’t tell you how much I loved coaching the guy as a player and as a person this year.”
So it looks like, if Tom Brady wants to play for the 49ers, the 49ers will pass. But the pressure will be on Garoppolo in 2020 — especially if Kirk Cousins doesn’t sign an extension in Minnesota. Shanahan has admitted that he didn’t evaluate Patrick Mahomes in the 2017 draft because Shanahan believed he’d sign Cousins the next year in free agency. The 49ers instead traded for Garoppolo, who is signed through 2022 and who easily can be traded or released in any of the next three offseasons. In 2021, he’s due to make $25.5 million, with a cap charge of only $2.8 million to move on.
Although Brady would be at a short-term replacement for Garoppolo, Cousins would fill the role for multiple years. He knows the offense inside and out. Also, Cousins had a chance to make a big throw with the season on the line in New Orleans, and he did.
Absent a new contract with guaranteed money that ties the 49ers’ hands beyond the coming season or an extended contract for Cousins that replaces the $29.5 million he’s due to make in this year in Minnesota, the possibility of Cousins in and Garoppolo out will linger throughout the offseason, regular season, and postseason . . . unless the 49ers get back to the Super Bowl and win it.