49ers send loud signal with Garoppolo signing, 'we wanted to build momentum'

49ers send loud signal with Garoppolo signing, 'we wanted to build momentum'

SANTA CLARA – The timing was important.

The 49ers did not want any drama lingering. They wanted to get a deal done with quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo because the sooner it that got accomplished, the sooner the organization could start getting some return on their pricey investment.

On a 74-degree February day at team headquarters, 49ers general manager John Lynch said he envisions his organization becoming a destination spot for NFL players. The weather is one thing. Having a 26-year-old, face-of-the-franchise quarterback is even more impactful.

Chief negotiator Paraag Marathe said after signing Garoppolo to a front-loaded five-year, $137.5 million contract, the 49ers are $62 million to $63 million under the salary cap. That is still plenty of room to get things accomplished -- and acquire players -- to support Garoppolo. Lynch said the team has a plan.

“After this, there are two teams with more cap space,” Lynch said. “So we’re going to be aggressively prudent and always make wise decisions and look out some years and do things that are a fit and give us an opportunity to be a better organization.

“We’re going to continue to try to re-sign our own players that we think are part of this puzzle. Some of those we have to let go to free agency and see where the market shakes out. We’re getting ready for the draft. We’re getting ready for free agency. This thing is always moving.”

The 49ers appeared to be a lot closer to returning to prominence since the Oct. 30 acquisition of Garoppolo in a trade with the New England Patriots for a second-round draft pick.

After beginning the season with a 1-10 record, the 49ers reeled off five consecutive victories to close the year with Garoppolo as the starter. So the press conference Friday to officially announce Garoppolo’s deal, making him the highest-paid player in NFL history, was not so much a celebration as it was a necessary step in the building process.

“We don’t have results right now,” 49ers CEO Jed York said. “We have a 6-10 team that needs to get better and needs to improve and I think we have a lot of guys who are willing to work to improve.”

Marathe was entrusted to work out a deal with Garoppolo’s agents, Don Yee, Steve Dubin and Carter Chow. He took his orders from Lynch and head coach Kyle Shanahan.

“John and Kyle decide if he’s the man,” Marathe said. “And if he’s the man, we pay the man.”

There were few complications along the way, as the 49ers had the same end game as Garoppolo – and those working for Garoppolo.

“From the beginning, it was always positive and productive,” Marathe said. “It was never acrimonious. All three of his agents are really professional, really smart, really good guys. Was it challenging and difficult? Yes. Was it ever negative? It never was. I was always optimistic because of that.”

About a dozen current members of the 49ers, including DeForest Buckner and Jaquiski Tartt, appeared Friday at Garoppolo’s press conference inside Levi’s Stadium.

They came for their quarterback. And the 49ers hope that others will want to follow. That’s why it was important to get things done weeks before the opening of the free-agent signing period.

“We want to build enough time for anticipation so people get the vibe around here going into free agency that this is where you want to be,” Marathe said.

“We wanted to make sure we had good signaling, that we had Jimmy’s (contract) done going into free agency. Absolutely, we wanted to build momentum.”

Kilgore: All of 49ers on same page 'for the first time in a long time'


Kilgore: All of 49ers on same page 'for the first time in a long time'

The 49ers’ coaching staff made its feelings known to center Daniel Kilgore throughout the season.

But, in the past, that would not have necessarily meant everyone in the organization had the same thoughts about Kilgore, who was scheduled to be an unrestricted free agent.

“The whole season, coaches and I had a good relationship,” Kilgore said Wednesday on conference call with Bay Area reporters. “Just talking and having one-on-ones with various coaches, I had a positive outlook for the future.

“But that’s just one thing. The coaches have an opinion of you, but then there’s also the front office. That’s two totally different things. And I think for the first time in a long time, our coaches and the front office are on the same page.”

Kilgore was working out back home in Tennessee on Wednesday when he signed a three-year contract to avoid hitting the free-agent market. Kilgore, 30, a seven-year NFL veteran, described the contract as a team-friendly deal.

The 49ers presented Kilgore with a contract offer during the season but negotiations did not get serious until just recently. While the 49ers expressed interest in retaining Kilgore, he said he did not know what the future held for him when he packed his belongings from the locker room on the day after the season ended.

“It kind of makes you nervous because in this profession, people like the younger guys,” Kilgore said. “You just never know what will happen at any time, any given day, in the NFL. So toward the end, that last day of clearing out the locker, I didn’t know if I’d be back. I didn’t know if the Niners would want me back.”

Kilgore was named the winner of the organization’s top honor for an offensive lineman. Kilgore won the Bobb McKittrick Award for best exemplifying the dedication, excellence and commitment of the long-time 49ers offensive line coach. Kilgore started all 29 games in which he appeared the past two seasons, including a career-high 16 games last season.

"I've been here seven years and I consider the Bay Area my second home,” Kilgore said. “To be able to extend my career wearing the 49ers jersey was special to me. This team is heading in the right direction, I wanted to be a part of it."

Why the 49ers did not hesitate to pay Garoppolo big money

Matt Maiocco

Why the 49ers did not hesitate to pay Garoppolo big money

When Jimmy Garoppolo signed a contract that could pay him up to $137.5 million over the next five years, he was asked what convinced him during his nine weeks with the organization that he wanted to be with the 49ers for the long term.

“I think it was a number of things,” Garoppolo said last week. “The team, the acceptance that they had of me when I first got here from the get-go, the coaching staff, Kyle and Rich. It was a very welcoming environment, and I really liked that. We had some success down the stretch, and you could see that pieces were falling into place. We've got a long way to go, but I think we're moving in the right direction.”

Kyle, of course, is head coach Kyle Shanahan. Rich Scagarello is the 49ers’ quarterbacks coach, and the person from whom Garoppolo spent the most time after arriving in Santa Clara on Oct. 31 after a trade with the New England Patriots.

Garoppolo earned $3.5 million in his first four NFL seasons. His new contract makes him the NFL’s highest-paid player, making an average of $27.5 million per season, with $48.7 million fully guaranteed.

Scangarello, appearing this week on The 49ers Insider Podcast, talked about what he learned about Garoppolo from working so closely with him to teach him Shanahan's offense. Scangarello said there is no question in his mind the money will not change Garoppolo’s approach to his work.

“That’s why it was easy for the organization and everyone to invest in somebody like Jimmy Garoppolo,” Scangarello said. “I just think that’s not the kind of person he is. If you met his family, you know where he comes from, what he’s about. His brothers, his parents, are just good, solid people people. He’s made of the right stuff and I just don’t see that affecting him in that way.

“It’s just not who he is. That’s the fun part of working with somebody like that every day. When they’re really talented and they appreciate everything and they work at it, you have a chance to be a successful organization and they can be a great player. And I don’t think those things will ever affect him.”