SAN FRANCISCO — Reverberations from Jimmy Garoppolo’s return to San Francisco have shaken the NFL world.
While head coach Kyle Shanahan and general manager John Lynch are holding firm that Trey Lance will be the 49ers’ starting quarterback and Garoppolo his backup, the move to keep Garoppolo raised some eyebrows of at least one new media member.
“They’re clearly not happy with Trey Lance’s performance in the preseason or in practice,” Julian Edelman said on a call with his fellow CBS studio analysts. “They backpedaled on what their plan would originally be, and that’s to go with Trey.”
Edelman, a Redwood City native, backed his former New England Patriots teammate for helping take the 49ers deep into the playoffs multiple times. With Lance’s inexperience, Edelman sees Garoppolo as a much-needed safety net for a contending team despite his technical shortcomings.
“This kid is 22 years old. He played in (Division) 1-AA. Yes, he has the tangibles, but does he have the intangibles?” he said. “We know Jimmy Garoppolo has struggled in certain situations and certain important parts of the game, but the guy still brought a team to a Super Bowl and an NFC Championship. That doesn’t mean he’s terrible. He has to do something right.”
Former quarterback Phil Simms, Edelman’s fellow analyst at CBS, wondered why the 49ers didn’t get this deal done earlier in training camp when it became clear the trade market was slim for a rehabbing quarterback with a contract that teams could not take under the cap. He doesn’t see Garoppolo’s return as an indictment of Lance, but more of an insurance policy on the young quarterback.
“Not that they’re super worried about Trey Lance, but when you have a Super Bowl roster on both sides of the football at every position, how can you not think that we’re going to be disappointed unless we win the Super Bowl this year?” he said. “And you’ve got to protect, insurance. The fact they were going to say it’s just Trey Lance and get rid of Jimmy Garoppolo, I thought that was crazy.
Simms said some errant performances from Lance in the preseason may have forced the 49ers to be careful about asking too much of him too soon.
Shanahan, not a huge fan of preseason games, spun Garoppolo’s return as a newfound advantage for the team, saying Tuesday that “there are 32 starting quarterbacks in this league and we believe we have two of them now.” Garoppolo also benefitted from the deal in some ways, even if he agreed to a salary decrease rather than being released.
In the restructured contract announced on Monday, Garoppolo will reportedly make $6.5 million instead of $24 million and will be a free agent after this season. Not only does this allow the cap-strapped 49ers to keep him on the roster, but it gives Garoppolo a clean slate on the market next year, as another analyst, former quarterback Boomer Esiason, pointed out on the CBS call.
“There’s a couple reasons why they did it and a couple reasons why Jimmy decided to take less money,” he said. “Coming off that injury and having surgery on your throwing shoulder in the offseason, not easy to trade somebody, especially with the amount of money the team that traded for him would have to accept. In training camp, people probably realized it was probably better off for him to just stay there.”
While Garoppolo’s presence might loom larger for every rookie mistake Lance makes this year — a tension coaches will downplay and analysts will play up — there’s one neutral advantage to the Lance-Garoppolo dynamic. The two quarterbacks say they formed a strong bond last year that will translate to this season.
“When you have Jimmy in the room and they’re watching cut-ups from last year when they’re playing the Rams, the quarterback coach can go, ‘Hey Jimmy what did you see pre-snap?’” Edelman said. “That is such valuable information for Trey Lance to hear the process of what Jimmy is going through. This is a huge thing for the Niners because I don’t think they think Trey Lance is ready.”
Contributed by local news sources