For all the noise about the security of Jimmy Garoppolo's job that consumed a good chunk of last offseason's news cycle, Jimmy G has been the undisputed starter all year for the San Francisco 49ers. Many expected Garoppolo to be quickly unseated by No. 3 overall pick Trey Lance, who the Niners acquired by trading numerous valuable draft picks. But that never happened. Lance only played early in the season in goal line packages and started when Garoppolo got hurt, but for real snaps in serious situations there was never a choice. It was always Garoppolo.
This doesn't mean a ton for Lance. Everybody knew he was a big project coming into the draft and the Niners did not give up a haul to draft him because they wanted him to be ready right away. He's a long-term commitment, but the roster is ready to win now, so Jimmy G's role as placeholder makes perfect sense and doesn't reflect poorly on the front office's choice to take Lance. However, eventually the team will move on from Garoppolo and give the keys to Lance.
That could happen as soon as this offseason. San Francisco can either cut or trade Garoppolo with only a $1.4 million dead cap hit as consequence as soon as the offseason begins. Before this season, the assumption was that they'd probably cut him; Garoppolo's best is not quite good enough and his worst is very bad. But he's played well this season, and Adam Schefter decided to tweet this merely hours before Garoppolo takes on the Cowboys.
If Lance isn't ready there's a chance the organization sticks with Garoppolo, who has one year left on his deal. But if they want to move him, here are a few options.
The most obvious choice, the Steelers may play their final game with Ben Roethlisberger under center tonight. They have no backup plan for when he retires once the season is done. Everyone is guessing the franchise will be in play for any of the big-name quarterbacks that may or may not become available this offseason, but a report this morning from Ian Rapoport suggested they'll be a little more conservative. Garoppolo would be a low-risk move, depending on how much the Niners demand of him; he's good enough to win with an elite supporting cast, which is all the Steelers can hope for considering the other options are Mason Rudolph and Dwayne Haskins. Pittsburgh may believe in their in-house options more, which would be on brand for the proud organization. But paying Garoppolo for one season and kicking the QB can down the road some more could work out well for a team ready to win games now.
The Broncos are rumored to be going big-game hunting this offseason, with eyes on Aaron Rodgers to complete a team that has been "a quarterback away from contention" for a few years now. There is the small problem of not currently having a head coach but that will be solved soon enough. The roster will remain the same-- a quality group of pass-catching options combined with a stingy defense. Garoppolo is very familiar with that setup and has proven he can succeed with it. If Denver strikes out on the larger names they're likely going to pursue, taking a swing on Jimmy G isn't a bad idea at all. As long as they can get rid of Teddy Bridgewater, that is.
New York Giants
The Giants are a bad team residing in a major market with an owner who expects immediate success. This particular set of circumstances often means the men in charge will look for patchwork solutions instead of exercising patience to build a contender from the ground up. Garoppolo would certainly qualify as such in this instance. Once New York finds a new GM and head coach to run the franchise, they may decide to straddle the line of contention while rebuilding, and that requires a competent quarterback (which Daniel Jones is not). The Giants actually do have a pretty solid set of offensive options and Garoppolo would be able to score points throwing to the likes of Kadarius Toney and Kenny Golladay. Rebuilding the defense will be a multi-year process but John Mara does not strike us as the type of owner who will buy into being very bad for that long. Trade a mid-round draft pick for Garoppolo, let him excite the crowd with the few good players the team has, and attempt to compete feels like a likely future for New York.