The San Francisco 49ers kicked draft season into warp speed after executing a blockbuster trade with the Miami Dolphins where they climbed up to the No. 3 overall pick in the 2021 NFL Draft. This move from No. 12 to No. 3 required a treasure trove of Niners picks (three first-rounders to be exact) and now sets the franchise up to select a quarterback to lead them for the foreseeable future. While one would think that a trade of this magnitude would make current starter Jimmy Garoppolo available via trade, the 49ers are insisting that they'll keep him aboard for 2021 and look to contend as they develop whoever they pick during April's draft.
During a press conference on Monday, 49ers GM John Lynch and head coach Kyle Shanahan addressed this seismic trade and noted that they both reached out to Garoppolo to inform him of the team's plans.
"Obviously no one wants to hear that," Shanahan said of his conversation with Garoppolo when looping him in on the trade. "I know he wasn't totally excited about it like you'd expect. Jimmy handled it great like he always does. We were very straight up with each other and I told him how we felt. This doesn't change any of his circumstances right now. He's still coming in here and trying to lead this team. I told him how excited I was that free agency went a lot better than anticipated with signing a lot more of our own players than we had thought going into it and that we have a real good team coming back here. We still plan on him leading us and getting us as far as we can with him."
Lynch added that Garoppolo is "very much still a part of our plans," indicating that trade is not their primary intention at the moment.
"We don't think those two things have to be mutually exclusive," said Lynch, who noted that just because they are adding a young quarterback doesn't necessarily mean they'll move Garoppolo. "The opportunity to trade up and possibly get a guy that can be a big part of our future and keep Jimmy, who we are very high on and some positive things are happening this offseason for, that's kind of the plan we arrived at."
For those who may not be fully in tune with the reason the 49ers are making this move when they have a quarterback in Garoppolo, who they are publicly decreeing they still believe in, it comes down to his durability. When healthy, Garoppolo has shown the ability to lead San Francisco to the Super Bowl. However, being on the field for 16 games is a rarity for him as he's only done it once in his career. More often than not, Garoppolo's seasons look more like 2020, where he played in just six games before being sidelined for the year due to injury. While Garoppolo is talented, the 49ers noted on Monday that they needed more stability at the position.
"[Garoppolo's] got a lot of untapped potential also," said Shanahan. "That's a hard thing for us too. We're not giving up on Jimmy because he can't play or anything. Jimmy can play. We also like the person too. We also know we can't go through a year of what's happened two out of the last three years. That's something we had to protect the organization with and there's lots of ways to go into that but it wasn't just a slam dunk decision on this guy can plan and this guy can't play."
While Garoppolo may be the 49ers starter for 2021, it's clear the organization will be moving in a new direction in the near future, beginning with whoever they pick at No. 3 overall. With Trevor Lawrence and Zach Wilson the presumptive No. 1 and No. 2 picks, that leaves Alabama's Mac Jones, Ohio State's Justin Fields and Trey Lance out of North Dakota State as possible options for San Francisco as they dive deeper into their search for a new face to the franchise.