Yes, 49ers G.M. John Lynch said recently that he has no doubt that Jimmy Garoppolo will be the team’s 2021 starting quarterback. Yes, there is good reason to doubt whether that actually and ultimately will be the case.
Lynch, frankly, said what he had to say. It was no different than the things Eagles G.M. Howie Roseman said about quarterback Carson Wentz on January 4, weeks before the Eagles agreed to trade him to the Colts.
“In terms of Carson, I don’t think it’s a secret that we moved up for him because of what we thought about him as a person, as a player,” Roseman said at the time. “We gave him that extension because of the same things. And so, when you have players like that, they’re like fingers on your hand. You can’t even imagine that they’re not part of you, that they’re not here. That’s how I feel about Carson.”
Roseman didn’t tell the unvarnished truth in that moment because doing so would have made it even harder to get the third-round pick and conditional second-round pick for Wentz that the Eagles ultimately will receive when the trade becomes official on March 17. Similarly, Lynch couldn’t, and wouldn’t, say anything other than Garoppolo is the guy for 2021 before the 49ers have an upgrade to Garoppolo on the roster.
Surely, the 49ers are looking for a better option. With a minimal cap consequence ($2.4 million) and a significant cash and cap charge for keeping Garoppolo in 2021 ($25 million), there’s every reason to look for someone who could be better at the position.
Garoppolo’s biggest flaw (apart from the rash of interceptable passes he threw in the 2019 playoff win over the Vikings that prompted coach Kyle Shanahan to make Jimmy G. a modern-day Bob Griese until the Super Bowl berth was secured) is his inability to stay healthy. As quarterbacks go, that’s a big deal. Indeed, with the rules slanted toward protecting quarterbacks, it should be much easier, not harder, for quarterbacks to remain able and available to play.
So, yes, there is lingering doubt as to whether Garoppolo will be the starter in 2021. If there isn’t, Lynch isn’t doing his job to the best of his ability. Lynch also isn’t doing his job to the best of his ability if he says at this point anything other than there’s no doubt that the starter will be Garoppolo.
And if a better quarterback becomes available to the 49ers and the 49ers acquire him, don’t be surprised if Garoppolo is cut. Who else would pay him $25 million for 2021? (The answer to that question underscores the urgency to find a better option, unless the 49ers can squeeze Garoppolo to take less.)
If/when that happens, don’t expect many in the media to call out Lynch for saying, “But you said there’s no doubt that Garoppolo will be the guy.” If anyone does, the response is simple: The circumstances changed.
The 49ers, in our view, are quietly hoping that they will.