When the 49ers traded up from No. 12 to No. 3 last March, most assumed that starting quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo’s days in San Francisco were numbered. They were. As it turns out, there was a very high number of them.
Now, 368 days after the trade was made, Garoppolo continues to be on the 49ers’ roster. They entered the offseason believing they’d be able to trade him, for something more than a low-round draft pick. As both G.M. John Lynch and coach Kyle Shanahan have said this week, Garoppolo’s shoulder surgery — which he underwent without even telling the team — caused the market to dry up.
So now they’ll wait, carrying more than $25 million in surplus cap space for Garoppolo at a time when they’re presumably hoping to help Trey Lance take over at the most important position on the team. They’re surely hoping that a quarterback with another team will suffer a freak injury, creating a demand for Garoppolo at a time when one otherwise doesn’t exist.
They need to better assess the risk and the reward. The chances of having a quarterback tear an ACL during non-contact drills are small. (Not impossible, as Teddy Bridgewater would attest, but small.) The damage to the overall development of Lance could be significant. Garoppolo has taken the 49ers to a Super Bowl. He nearly took them to another. He’s beloved in the locker room.
Lance continues to be the new guy. He’s trying to win acceptance, to prove himself. Having his predecessor still on the team necessarily makes that harder.