The 49ers were poised to trade quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo until he surprised them with a decision to have surgery on his throwing shoulder. Soon, he’ll be cleared to throw again, following the March procedure.
That’s the report from Jeremy Fowler of ESPN.com. Garoppolo will be cleared within the next few weeks, and he’ll commence throwing.
It’s an important, albeit expected, development in the awkward dance between the 49ers and the quarterback they don’t want to keep on the team. Once he’s cleared, he can be traded to a new team.
That said, there’s no guarantee a new team will trade for him, especially with a $25 million non-guaranteed compensation package. Whoever wants him will want to pay less. Unless the 49ers will be paying some of the salary, Garoppolo will be expected to cut his salary.
Why should he? All he has to do is refuse to do anything with his contract, and he gets to go wherever he wants as a free agent.
The key factor becomes time. The 49ers can squat on him throughout training camp and the preseason, cutting him just before Week One and wiping out his salary. (He has a $7.5 million injury guarantee that will evaporate for 2022 once he’s cleared.) He’d then be forced to try to find a new team at a time when the various depth charts are set.
In the interim, things could get even more awkward. The 49ers won’t want their injury-prone quarterback to end up on IR and, in turn, on the books for his full salary. But they can’t lock him out of training camp. If push comes to shove, they can’t keep him from getting practice reps and, in turn, risking a season-ending injury.
For Garoppolo, the sooner he’s traded or released, the better. For the 49ers, time could create an opportunity to get a significant return, if a starting quarterback elsewhere suffers a season-ending injury before Week One, like Teddy Bridgewater did in 2016.
The team’s talking points heap praise on Jimmy’s willingness to submit to the team’s plans. Jimmy’s a nice guy. Jimmy will go along. Jimmy won’t cause any trouble.
Well, the time is coming for Jimmy to get upset. To force the issue. To make sure he brings the situation to a head ASAFP, in order to have the best chance to make a team elsewhere — and possibly to compete for the starting job in 2022.