The 49ers are officially quarterback Trey Lance’s team, but his predecessor Jimmy Garoppolo remains on the roster.
And that’s reportedly for good reason.
On Thursday, former NFL executive Mike Lombardi said on “The GM Shuffle” podcast, citing a source, that Garoppolo’s current state of limbo with the 49ers is so that their NFC West rivals aren’t able to get their talons on him.
“I keep asking teams all the time, why don’t they just cut Jimmy G now? And the answer that I got back from multiple teams is, ‘They don’t want him to go to Seattle,’” Lombardi said (h/t 95.7 The Game). “I said, ‘Well how interested is Seattle in Jimmy G?’ And [one source] said, ‘Oh, they’re very interested in him.’
“So for all the talk about Geno [Smith], for all the talk about Drew Lock, I think Seattle knows they’re going to get Jimmy G. And I think San Francisco knows that he could go there. So they’re trying everything in their power to prevent that, and they have no takers.”
The 49ers have been trying to trade Garoppolo since their season came to an end in the NFC Championship game last season but to no avail. His March shoulder surgery derailed any talks of a deal early in the offseason, and no interested parties have stepped forward to trade for him since the team’s desire was reiterated in late July.
It was originally thought that the 49ers might release Garoppolo early on and give the beleaguered quarterback a chance to find a new job elsewhere when no trade materialized.
But as that eventual release appears inevitable, so does the fact that doing so would make him readily available to the Seahawks for the taking — or signing.
In Seattle, Smith appears to be the frontrunner over Lock to win the starting job under center. But even the least interested football fans can acknowledge Garoppolo is a clear upgrade over both.
By keeping Garoppolo on their roster for as long as possible, the 49ers avoid him signing with another team — in this case, the Seahawks — with enough time to learn a playbook before Week 1.
And with their first matchup against Seattle set for Week 2 at Levi’s Stadium, the more time San Francisco can bide, the better.
The most obvious expiration date between the 49ers and Garoppolo would be when the team has to trim their roster down to 53 players on Aug. 30.
But this situation has been anything but textbook so far.
San Francisco could keep Garoppolo on the 53-man roster and then cut him before rosters for the Sept. 11 season opener lock at 4 p.m on Sept. 10 — an idea Lombardi believes is a real possibility.
“So what I think will happen is the Friday before the opening weekend, I think they’ll cut Jimmy G,” Lombardi said. “I think that’s when they’ll cut him, and then he’ll have to go do his contract and go up to Seattle and go there.
“But there is no interest in allowing Seattle to have even a week of preparation with Jimmy G to come in as their starting quarterback. But I do believe, reliably reported to me, that Seattle is the team that wants him.”
As coach Kyle Shanahan has stated previously, Garoppolo’s current situation is a result of the 49ers also needing to do what’s best for the team. He also has suggested the 49ers are open to “any” possibility with Garoppolo, including keeping him on the team.
Even though a trade partner hasn’t come forward, that doesn’t mean there aren’t teams that see the value of what the veteran quarterback can offer. Or, in this case, are at least “very interested.”
After all is said and done, it’s looking quite possible that the 49ers Faithful haven’t come close to seeing the last of Garoppolo.
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