Coming off a fourth-quarter collapse in the Super Bowl, the San Francisco 49ers certainly did not want to bring up Jimmy Garoppolo's future immediately after the game. Garoppolo finished 20 of 31 for 219 yards with one touchdown and two interceptions in the 49ers Super Bowl LIV loss, but he was just 2 of 10 for 20 yards and an interception in the fourth quarter (with the 49ers entering the final frame with a 10-point lead). Garoppolo has three years left on his contract, but San Francisco has an out this offseason -- a way to move on from Garoppolo without taking on much of a financial burden against their 2020 salary cap. While tempting for some 49ers fans, head coach Kyle Shanahan has not even considered the possibility of moving forward without Garoppolo.
"I think Jimmy is one of the main reasons we got to the Super Bowl," Shanahan said at the 49ers season-ending press conference Thursday. "I think he overcame a lot. This was his first year in his career going through an entire NFL season. He still doesn't have as many starts and stuff as Baker Mayfield.
"I think he had a hell of a first year truly playing the position, especially coming off an ACL where you have to fight through that a ton as a quarterback, where your rhythm and everything is not there at the beginning of the year. For him to be like that and to not let the pressure get to him, and to improve as the year went, I think says a ton about Jimmy. I can't tell you how much I loved coaching the guy as a player and as a person this year."
Garoppolo is owed a base salary of $23.8 million in 2020, the third year of a five-year, $137.5 million contract he signed in 2017. The 49ers structured the contract where they can save significant amounts of cap space just by releasing Garoppolo in the final years of his deal (per Over The Cap). San Francisco can save $22.4 million in cap space if they move on from Garoppolo this offseason, $24.1 million in the 2021 offseason and $25.6 million in the 2022 offseason. The 49ers will enter the offseason with approximately $13.8 million in available cap space and several key free agents (Arik Armstead, Jimmie Ward) they need to resign.
By all statistical accounts, Garoppolo had a good season for the 49ers in his first full season as a starting quarterback. The 49ers went 13-3 as Garoppolo started all 16 games, completing 69.1 percent of his passes for 3,978 yards, 27 touchdowns, 13 interceptions, and a 102.0 passer rating.
Garoppolo has been criticized for being a game manager, but the 49ers finished third in completion rate (68.81%) and yards per pass (7.9). He also completed 69.7 percent of his passes with six touchdowns and one interception and a 105.6 passer rating in the fourth quarter, making the Super Bowl LIV performance an anomaly rather than how he's performed throughout the year. Garoppolo also completed 72.7 percent of his passes with 11 touchdowns and three interceptions for a 115.7 passer rating when trailing this year.
The 49ers are 21-6 in Garoppolo's 27 starts (including postseason), proving their franchise quarterback is able to win games and play well enough to take the 49ers to the Super Bowl. If the 49ers look to create cap space, it shouldn't be at the expense of Garoppolo.