The San Francisco 49ers knew that this season didn’t mean much in the grand scheme. They went into the off-season with a new general manager in John Lynch and a new head coach in Kyle Shanahan. It hasn’t been the most memorable season in San Francisco’s storied history, as they are just 3-10 and last in the NFC West. It’s not to be forgotten, though, as Lynch made a shrewd move for a first-year GM. He got his franchise quarterback in Jimmy Garoppolo, simply for a 2018 second-round draft pick, according to ESPN’s Adam Schefter. The buzz around “Jimmy G” grew immensely last season with the New England Patriots, as he far exceeded expectations when Tom Brady was suspended for the “Deflategate” controversy before he eventually injured his throwing shoulder. The former backup QB has transformed this talent-deprived San Francisco offense, as he’s won both of his starts with his new team. The Niners have looked totally different these last two weeks with Garoppolo giving this offense a different gear. He’s been phenomenal with marginal talent around him, and one would think he has to be the future of the franchise. The pressing situation with Garoppolo is his impending free agency after the season concludes.
Matt Maiocco of NBC Sports Bay Area demonstrated how the team will evaluate all options, including the franchise tag, moving forward.
“The 49ers will retain Garoppolo with the franchise tag if the sides are unable to reach agreement on a multi-year deal,” Maiocco said.
The choice seems pretty simple: Garoppolo should be inked to a long-term deal. San Francisco has a really rich quarterback history, and Jimmy G is already in the record book after his first two games, according to the Niners’ official Twitter.
— San Francisco 49ers (@49ers) December 12, 2017
That’s an impressive feat for the young QB, especially considering Jerry Rice or Terrell Owens aren’t lined up outside. Other than talented running back Carlos Hyde, Garoppolo doesn’t have much established talent to work with. Having him on the franchise tag and delaying the problem would be a mistake for the other skilled positions. One of Garoppolo’s favorite targets has been wide receiver Marquise Goodwin, who has not had consistency outside of catching the occasional deep ball in his career. Kevin Patra of NFL.com broke down how much more effective Goodwin has been with Jimmy G throwing him the ball.
“Consider this: in two weeks with Jimmy G, Marquise Goodwin has 14 receptions for 205 yards, more catches than the former one-trick pony had earned than during any four-game stretch of his career.”
If the Niners do not get a deal done before the start of next year and have to franchise tag Garoppolo, that could set a bad precedent involving the talented QB. Dieter Kurtenbach of the Bay Area News Group demonstrated an unfortunate possibility for the Niners’ future outlook.
“A simple rule of thumb: if you’re willing to pay a quarterback $20-plus million for one year, you should be willing to give him $20-plus million over multiple years. The 49ers should apply that logic to the Garoppolo situation. Because for Garoppolo, the Niners’ eagerness to put a franchise tag on him is not a threat – it’s a bar-setting move. He now knows that he’s worth at least $23.5 million (the projected cost of a franchise tag next year) per season to the 49ers, and at age 26, he can reasonably expect to play at least another 10 years. By being willing to use the franchise tag, the Niners are negotiating, in essence, against themselves, when it comes to a long-term deal with Garoppolo.”
It’s obvious that if a team in the NFL does not have their quarterback situation solved, they don’t win. Based on Kurtenbach’s point, it’s obvious that the franchise tag only makes the quarterback price higher going forward. Garoppolo is a franchise quarterback with a very high ceiling with more talent around him, which could eventually include current Penn State running back Saquon Barkley or Southern Methodist wide receiver Courtland Sutton. San Francisco should address this problem soon so they don’t lose Garoppolo in the future, and they can continue to build the rest of their roster over the next few years without worrying about the quarterback situation.