Right before the trade deadline, the San Francisco 49ers seemed to be getting their quarterback when they traded a second-round pick for New England Patriots backup Jimmy Garoppolo.
In a way, the move made sense for all sides. The 49ers desperately needed a quarterback because C.J. Beathard is the starter. Garoppolo was sitting on the bench for the past four seasons and needed to know whether or not Tom Brady was going to continue to play and seek a starting job elsewhere. The Patriots knew Garoppolo’s contract was wrapping up the end of this season and would have had to franchise tag Garoppolo and pay him more than his legendary starter or give him a long-term deal and still pay him, depriving the team of making moves elsewhere.
And so, the 49ers traded their 2018 second-round pick for Garoppolo and everyone assumed he would be starting in order to start a potential 49ers turnaround. Garoppolo didn’t start against the Cardinals, but that was understandable since he just got traded there. It’ll take a bit of time to learn the playbook and get going. Then Garoppolo didn’t play against the Giants, which was strange, but still understandable after just a week and a half.
But now, with a bye week and just six games left in the season, it seems like the 49ers may not be playing Garoppolo anytime soon. While I guess there’s still a possibility, head coach Kyle Shanahan said that he doesn’t have a plan yet for Garoppolo to start.
“That’s not my plan,” Shanahan said. “I don’t have a plan yet. There’s no way anything you guys hear reported could be accurate, because I just told you guys our plan.”
Maybe this is a way for Shanahan to not reveal everything to the public but if that’s the case, we’ll find out when the team practices and we find out who is taking the first team snaps. But if Beathard is taking the snaps and gets behind center against the Seahawks in two weeks, we’ll all be asking ourselves the same question.
What was the point of trading for Jimmy Garoppolo if you aren’t going to play the man?
Seriously, I mean I get plans change but let’s not delude ourselves into believing that C.J. Beathard is going to be the savior of this team. That kind of logic is beyond laughable and if that’s the mindset of Kyle Shanahan, I’d have to seriously question his sanity.
Let’s assume Beathard will be the starter for the rest of the season. This means that Garoppolo left the bench of arguably the best team in the NFL and a Super Bowl contender to go sit on the bench of arguably the worst team in the NFL who just got their first win this past weekend.
This means that the 49ers wasted a second round pick for a quarterback they aren’t going to play, knowing that at the end of the season they either have to release him, franchise him or sign him to a long-term deal. By not playing Garoppolo, the 49ers won’t be testing a potential long-term quarterback and will be making a huge decision with financial and on-field implications without any semblance of on-field information to go off of.
And if I was in Garoppolo’s shoes, unless this was always the plan that he wouldn’t be playing, I would be looking around thinking I made a huge mistake in wanting out of New England to sit on the bench for the worst team in the league. I’m 26, and apart from two starts, I haven’t had a chance to test myself as a starting quarterback. I’m in a contract year and I need to make sure that the next contract I sign guarantees me a shot because if I don’t, I’ll never get that shot. It seemed like the 49ers wanted me but now they aren’t going to start me, why should I stay here?
The 49ers may have a potential star but if they aren’t careful, they may lose him to free agency. Yes, the 49ers may franchise him but as is the case with Kirk Cousins and the Washington Redskins, that isn’t a successful long-term strategy for player or team. I get the tank is on and the 49ers want a high draft pick but they need to know what they have in Jimmy Garoppolo before they potentially lose him.