Shanahan and Lynch went from passing on QB reply of their first draft — one which noticed the 49ers commerce down from No. 2 to No. 3 and go on Patrick Mahomes, Deshaun Watson (and Mitch Trubisky, who went second general) for since-departed defensive lineman Solomon Thomas — earlier than seeing a long-term starter fall into their laps at that yr’s commerce deadline. That October 2017 commerce, which value the 49ers a second-round decide (No. 43 general), remains to be paying dividends 5 years later.
The Garoppolo period seems close to an finish, however the 49ers are immediately all-in once more on a participant who spent the offseason, coaching camp and preseason away from the workforce. Trey Lance‘s season-ending ankle injury dealt an inexperienced prospect a tough blow, but the Week 2 setback — albeit awkwardly — may have bolstered one of the NFL’s prime rosters. Garoppolo’s re-emergence figures to stabilize the 49ers, offering them maybe a significantly elevated ground. (An early-season Lance benching was already being rumored.) Instances by which a contending workforce loses a QB1 and is seen as higher for it should not precisely widespread all through NFL historical past; this could possibly be one of many few.
This actuality practically fell aside months in the past, because the 49ers came close to trading Garoppolo earlier than his value-hijacking March shoulder surgical procedure. The Browns, Rams and Seahawks later loomed as a locations within the occasion the 49ers reduce him — this saga’s anticipated endgame in its remaining weeks. Although the 49ers have mentioned the plan all alongside was to commerce their four-plus-year starter, he always loomed as unusual Lance insurance. The 49ers drafted some of the atypical quarterback prospects in league historical past final yr, and the Division I-FCS product’s inexperience made going into the season with out Garoppolo an incredible threat. Yet, that appeared the plan. Lynch’s suggestion to method Garoppolo with a pay-cut proposal ended up stopping one of many NFC favorites from seeing Lance’s damage depart them with an untenable in-house starter possibility.
While Garoppolo provides Shanahan a safer possibility to guide a three-All-Pro offense, the 49ers are in one of many weirder locations at quarterback in latest reminiscence. Their No. 3 general decide could have completed his first two seasons with 4 begins and 102 go makes an attempt. Those numbers should not unprecedented by any means, however that is clearly a unique state of affairs in comparison with the likes of Jordan Love or busts Johnny Manziel (eight begins via two seasons) and Paxton Lynch (4). Lance, who could possibly be saved via 2025 through the fifth-year possibility, stays firmly in San Francisco’s plans. But this rehab yr will nix one other shot at in-game improvement. These possibilities have regularly been taken away from the North Dakota State alum.
Entering 2023, Lance could have only one season of normal starter work on his post-high college resume. After redshirting in 2018, Lance tore up the FCS stage (albeit with that tier’s best program) with 28 landing passes and no interceptions and led the Bison to a different nationwide championship. The COVID-19 pandemic led most of school soccer, save for Division I-FBS, to cancel its 2020 seasons (for the autumn, not less than). After a one-game 2020, Lance declared for the draft. Despite a spotlight reel consisting completely of redshirt-freshman performs, the dual-threat expertise managed to comply with fellow Bison standout Carson Wentz by changing into a top-three draftee. But Lance suffered a finger damage in 2021, limiting him throughout a season by which he was not seen as a Garoppolo risk.
A sought-after QB prospect having thrown 420 passes in 5 seasons since highschool is traditionally uncommon territory for a participant nonetheless anticipated to be a long-term NFL starter. Lance’s misfortune comes after an inconsistent preseason, one which helped push the 49ers to solidify a Garoppolo recommitment. A rocky Week 1 begin on a waterlogged Soldier Field enhanced the thriller surrounding Lance’s standing. A excessive ceiling could stay, however after 4 years away from full-time responsibility, can the 49ers make sure? San Francisco can be now veering towards Green Bay-Love territory; the 49ers could have gotten subsequent to nothing from a first-round QB contract via two years. Though, Garoppolo’s restructure provides the workforce some flexibility the Packers lack because of Aaron Rodgers‘ record-setting $50.3M-per-year extension.
Fielding an NFC championship-qualifying workforce with scant contributions from a No. 3 general decide highlights the 49ers’ roster power. Last yr’s success and this yr’s largely Lance-less operation additionally amplify the franchise’s choice to commerce two future first-round picks to maneuver up 9 spots for such an unproven commodity. The 49ers have gained despite their 2021 Lance- (or Mac Jones?)-motivated choice. It is comprehensible the 49ers dealt into future draft arsenals to land a quarterback upgrade, as Garoppolo (Twelfth- and Thirteenth-place QBR figures in 2019 and ’21, respectively) maxes out as an above-average possibility. But the workforce made a luxurious decide with a Super Bowl-caliber roster in place.
The Shanahan-Jones connection doubtless is not going to fade anytime quickly. Although Jones was not seen on Lance’s stage as a prospect final yr, the 49ers’ April commerce was initially believed to be for the Alabama QB. The 49ers went through an extensive investigation into Jones, the eventual Patriots decide at No. 15, earlier than deciding on Lance. A report indicating the 49ers, who had held 2021’s No. 12 general choice, being worried about the Patriots leapfrogging them for Jones does level to the much less cellular passer being their preliminary choice. While Shanahan mentioned each Lance and Jones would have been good options, the Jones what-if may linger.
Lance’s damage additionally thrusts Garoppolo’s well being historical past again to the forefront. In addition to the shoulder illness that sidetracked his commerce market, the ninth-year vet performed via calf and thumb points in 2021, went down with a season-ending ankle downside in 2020 and missed many of the ’18 season as a result of an ACL tear. The 49ers having 2022 Mr. Irrelevant Brock Purdy and apply squad journeyman Kurt Benkert as Garoppolo’s solely backups immediately turns into a priority. Shanahan’s intermittent success with a rookie UDFA (Nick Mullens) however, the workforce turning again to the commerce market — this time to complement Garoppolo — would make sense.
A backup with a number of years of management could possibly be a precedence as properly. Garoppolo’s 2018 extension expires in March. The 49ers venturing to 2 NFC title video games in three seasons with out a high-end quarterback represents an achievement when contemplating the place’s rise in stature as rule adjustments have pushed most groups to construct across the passing sport. The quarterback that drew scrutiny for holding his workforce again being seen as a rejuvenation device is ironic, however the 49ers did properly to forge this compromise. It may go down as a seminal compromise.
But little is settled for the workforce past 2022. After Garoppolo makes one other push at a Super Bowl championship, his restructure’s no-franchise tag clause would stand to guide him to free agent market unlikely to incorporate many engaging choices (Lamar Jackson just isn’t hitting the market, and Year 23 may truly be it for Brady). At that time, the paused Lance period will return to the 49ers’ entrance burner. Lance’s unsure trajectory will probably be acceptable for a workforce that has seen its QB state of affairs produce a extremely unpredictable contender in the course of the Shanahan-Lynch interval.