The 49ers will add a quarterback tomorrow night with the third overall selection in the draft. Will they subtract one before the end of the coming weekend?
Speculation has intensified in recent days that the 49ers will trade Jimmy Garoppolo before or during the draft. Peter King dusted off the subject in Monday’s Football Morning in America column. Jason La Canfora of CBS followed Peter’s item with word of a “strong expectation” among General Managers that the 49ers will try to make a deal.
Potential trade partners include the Patriots, the Texans, and maybe the Bears.
Two key components will be part of any trade. First, and obviously, the 49ers will have to find a suitor who will give San Francisco the compensation that it wants. Second, the new team will need to strike a deal with Garoppolo as to his compensation for 2021, and whether he’ll get an extension or (like Teddy Bridgewater in Denver) a path to free agency after the 2021 season.
The strategic question for the 49ers becomes whether they’re willing to wait for a better market to develop later, if for example a starting quarterback elsewhere suffers an injury. However, waiting for a preseason ACL tear or broken leg would entail risking that the oft-injured Garoppolo will get injured, sticking the 49ers with his full $24.1 million salary for 2021.
A separate problem comes from the possibility of Garoppolo playing, staying healthy, and playing well in 2021. If he’s the Week One starter, whether because he wins the job or the rookie is injured, the 49ers may have a hard time flipping in 2022 to the rookie for who they will have given up the 12th overall pick, two future first-rounders, and a third-rounder.
Arguably, the team’s decision to express indecision (feigned or otherwise) regarding whether they’ll take Mac Jones or Justin Fields or Trey Lance makes it more important to not let a lingering Garoppolo keep the rookie on the bench. As recently explained on PFT Live, the 49ers are the guy who took out a second mortgage to buy a Ferrari. Then, when he got to the exotic car dealership, he started looking at the Porsche and the Aston-Martin. Then, he drove all three. Then, he agonized over which one to take.
Then, he made a selection. Then, his neighbors bought the other two cars. And they drive them by his house regularly.
If the two guys the 49ers don’t take are playing well elsewhere, and if the player drafted by the 49ers gets stuck behind Garoppolo, that won’t go over well with the paying customers. And for good reason. Fans and media will say that the 49ers wasted draft picks that could have been used to acquire four other players over the next three drafts.
Even if they still buy the Ferarri, the 49ers have to worry that they bought the lemon. If the Ferarri can’t even get out of the garage because the jalopy they wanted to get rid of is finally running well, the necessarily will cause Ferrari to be regarded as a purchase.
The 49ers have seemed indecisive about the player they’ll take at No. 3. They can’t afford to be indecisive about Garoppolo. They made a big move because they don’t trust Garoppolo over the long-term. They shouldn’t trust him over the short-term, either.