49ers Must Trade Jimmy Garoppolo Whether Trey Lance is Ready or Not

Trey Lance, Jimmy Garoppolo
Trey Lance, Jimmy Garoppolo / Michael Zagaris/GettyImages

After the San Francisco 49ers' season ended with a Jimmy Garoppolo interception, the widely-held assumption around the league was that Jimmy G's time in the Bay was over. The team can trade him and suffer a dead cap hit of only $1.4 million. They have a QB-in-waiting in 2021 No. 3 overall pick Trey Lance. The playoff run hammered home that Garappolo will never carry his team to victory when it matters most-- the best anyone can hope for is that he doesn't sabotage their chances with ill-timed turnovers and boneheaded decisions.

On Wednesday, Adam Schefter told everybody to pump the brakes. Appearing on ESPN colleague Ari Meirov's podcast, the insider said the Niners are not locked into trading Garoppolo.

The reasoning essentially boils down to it's better to have the devil you know than the devil you don't. Garoppolo has his flaws but the Niners are comfortable with those flaws because they have definitive proof that they can reach the Super Bowl despite those flaws. Lance, on the other hand, is a relatively unknown quality. San Francisco doesn't know for sure how he can handle full-time starting duties or the bright lights of playoff football. The overarching narrative implies further that Lance just might not be ready, too. Which isn't necessarily unexpected since he was a project QB to begin with.

But you know what this really feels like? Posturing. The Niners know everybody expects them to trade Jimmy G, which inherently lowers his trade value. So they put this out into the Metaverse to try and recoup that trade value, drive intrigue where there is no intrigue, and see if that makes potential trade partners more inclined to offer higher draft picks.

Everyone expects the Niners to trade Jimmy G because the Niners have to trade him this offseason. They gave up three first-round picks to pick Lance in last year's draft. Garoppolo is the only real shot they have at recouping a first-rounder to make up for that. He'll be a free agent next offseason. This is their last chance to get any value for Garoppolo, and they need to take it.

Beyond that, the franchise invested immense resources in selecting Lance specifically for the purpose of being able to trade Garoppolo without losing much production at quarterback. They also did it because starting a QB on a rookie contract gives a team wide-ranging flexibility to improve the roster elsewhere. Whatever might be said about Garoppolo, he is not cheap; he'll count for $26.5 million against the cap in 2022. Lance only counts for $7 million this year.

Garoppolo had a good run in San Fran, but it's over. The team needs to trade him, and they know it. Anything we hear otherwise is merely part of that process.