With a lingering high ankle sprain and stagnation on the field, Jimmy Garoppolo's future with the 49ers seems cloudy at best.
Kyle Shanahan shined a little more sun on his QB while talking with reporters Tuesday, though.
"I expect Jimmy to be our starter next year," Shanahan said. "I expect him to come and play with us this year."
That isn't a guarantee -- far from it. It wouldn't make sense for Shanahan to come outright and say he doesn't have confidence in Garoppolo. That notion also would hurt any trade value the 49ers might have with Garoppolo.
But there's a problem with that, too. Sports Illustrated's Albert Breer explained Wednesday morning that Garoppolo has a no-trade clause for the 2021 League Year. The 49ers can't trade Garoppolo without his permission until March 2022.
That doesn't necessarily mean Garoppolo is guaranteed to be the 49ers' quarterback next season. He could see the writing on the wall and sign off on a trade. The more realistic move is simply moving on from Garoppolo by releasing him. With two years remaining on his five-year, $137.5 million contract, the 49ers would save $24.1 million in salary-cap space by cutting ties with the QB after the season.
At 4-6, the 49ers are both rising up the 2021 NFL Draft order and also aren't out of the playoff picture just yet. It sounds like Shanahan expects Garoppolo to return to the field this season, which would be huge for the 49ers for many reasons. When healthy, he of course is their best option at QB right now and could help them make the postseason. Perhaps more importantly, it gives Shanahan more time to evaluate the position.
The 49ers already have scouted Alabama quarterback Mac Jones and BYU's Zach Wilson. They've reiterated their confidence in Garoppolo time and time again. They also know it might be best to move on and get a quarterback on a rookie contract in the draft.
After reaching the Super Bowl last season, the 49ers' future at the quarterback position remains incredibly murky.