Everything ever said about Jimmy Garoppolo was proven right on Sunday evening as both sides of the quarterback came to play for the NFC Championship Game. There were a few drives last night where Garoppolo looked the part of a good enough quarterback to win a ring; his second-quarter drive to tie the game at 7-7 consisted of several good throws and a great toss to George Kittle for the touchdown. Then there were a few drives (most notably in the second half) where Garoppolo made the worst decision possible at every available opportunity.
It was the Good Jimmy G that helped the San Francisco 49ers take a 10-point lead and it was the Bad Jimmy G that helped blow that lead to the Los Angeles Rams. The Worst Jimmy G showed up for the final drive. On the final three plays of his season, Garoppolo threw a pass into the dirt, threw a checkdown to the flat despite, you know, being down by three points and needing to march 80 yards down the field in less than two minutes, and then finally flung an interception while trying to escape a sack on third down.
It was the picturesque Garoppolo game. He was good enough to put his team in position to win the game and then made enough bad plays sequentially for his team to lose the game. Matters were only made worse by the stakes. Garoppolo was a main reason the Niners are going on vacation this week instead of preparing for the Super Bowl.
All of this combined with the fact that the organization traded multiple first-round picks for Garoppolo's replacement in last year's draft leads to a basic and reasonable assumption: Garoppolo's days in San Francisco are done. The Niners will have a dead cap hit of less than $2 million if they trade or cut Garoppolo this offseason. Moving on from him is both easy and makes perfect sense. It's inevitable.
Right? Well, actually, the Good Morning Football crew had a different mindset. They believe it wouldn't be a shock to see Jimmy G under center for the Niners yet again next year. Peter Schrager and Cris Carter explain:
Both men are probably correct in their own way. Trey Lance absolutely did not blow anybody away this year otherwise he would have played more than he did; after Week 4, the rookie only played when Garoppolo was hurt. And Kyle Shanahan obviously likes Garoppolo otherwise the aggressive organization he works for would have figured out a way to replace him sooner than they did.
But sticking with Garoppolo next year robs the Niners of any chance, no matter how slim, they have of getting something in return for the quarterback. Part of the calculus for trading up to draft Lance was undoubtedly that they'd be able to flip Garoppolo for another high pick that helps offset the price paid to move up in last year's draft. Should they keep Garoppolo, he'll just hit free agency after next season and the best the Niners will get will be a third-round compensatory pick.
Lance implications aside, the biggest reason to not stick with Garoppolo is that he is not a championship-winning quarterback. Quite literally everything has to go right for a Garoppolo-led team to reach the Super Bowl. He is a quarterback whose weaknesses need to be covered up by coaching and his teammates; if they aren't, all is lost. Quarterbacks like that can win titles, but it is very hard. San Francisco obviously has a great team around Garoppolo that can win games at a high level. Sticking with Jimmy G for another season retains the same constraints this version of the Niners have.
Garoppolo had a good run. But the Niners, for one reason or another, need to move on.