Rather than go into a reactionary posture with Washington holding the first offseason move with Kirk Cousins, the 49ers were proactive and committed to their future with Jimmy Garoppolo.
The 49ers dealt one of their two second-round draft picks to the New England Patriots to acquire Garoppolo, a fourth-year player with just two NFL starts.
“I like the decision,” former 49ers Pro Bowl quarterback Jeff Garcia said on The 49ers Insider Podcast.
“I like that they get a young quarterback who’s been in an organization that has brought him along and taught him how to approach the game. There’s definitely ability there. It just hasn’t been seen enough.”
Garoppolo, who turns 26 on Thursday, started the first two games of 2016 while Tom Brady served a suspension. Garoppolo sustained a shoulder injury to prevent him from starting all four games during Brady’s absence.
Garcia said the decision to acquire Garoppolo will not cost the 49ers as much cap room as it would have taken to potentially sign Cousins as a free agent. Also, the 49ers still own their first-round pick and a second-round selection acquired from the New Orleans Saints.
The 49ers enter the second half of the season as one of just two winless teams in the NFL. General manager John Lynch might be able to parlay the club’s first-round pick into a trade-back with a quarterback-needy team to acquire more first- and second-day draft selections.
“Now, the 49ers don’t have to go after a quarterback with the No. 1 pick,” Garcia said. “They can accumulate a handful of picks and build the talent base with some solid offensive linemen, some wide receivers, some defensive backs – wherever they have some needs on the team.
“This allows the 49ers to put their focus elsewhere.”
The 49ers appear fully committed to Garoppolo for the future, but Garcia said it is not necessary for the team to immediately sign him to a lucrative contract extension. Garoppolo’s contract expires at the end of the season. If the sides are unable to reach a multi-year deal, the 49ers have the option of retaining him on a one-year deal under the franchise tag.
The 49ers’ decision to act now could be an indication the organization was not convinced it could land a franchise quarterback in the draft.
“Whether it was the current draft class scaring them a bit or the realization they can get somebody who’s more qualified that a college player and who has potentially a brighter upside than any of these college kids and not have to give up a first-round pick, now they can create an opportunity to build elsewhere,” Garcia said.
Veteran quarterback Brian Hoyer played his way out of the 49ers starting lineup – and off the roster -- after making six starts. Rookie C.J. Beathard took over and will be stepping aside whenever Garoppolo is deemed ready to take over.
“No matter what, they were going to look to upgrade the position,” Garcia said. “Not taking anything away from C.J. He’s scrappy, a fighter and a battler. But he’s still young and he’s growing, and he’s going through the process of playing for a team that’s just not very good right now.”
Garcia said there is no rush to get Garoppolo on the field because this is a move that is being made for next year and many seasons ahead.
The 49ers (0-8) play Arizona and the New York Giants the next two weeks before the bye week. Left tackle Joe Staley, who sustained an orbital fracture of his right eye, could return to action when the 49ers face the Seattle Seahawks on Nov. 26 at Levi’s Stadium.
“They’re not all of a sudden becoming a playoff team overnight, so why rush your potential franchise quarterback into a bad situation when he’s not mentally prepared to just react and know the game and to not have your best left tackle on the field with you?” Garcia said. “There’s no reason to rush the situation.”