Coach Kyle Shanahan ended the drama as training camp opened Tuesday when he announced Trey Lance would take over for Jimmy Garoppolo as the 49ers’ starting quarterback during the 2022 NFL season.
That much had already been obvious throughout the team’s offseason program, but it was mildly surprising to hear Shanahan address the situation so directly.
The shocking part came a short time later when general manager John Lynch was asked if Garoppolo had expressed his desire to be released. The answer: “No.”
Garoppolo is showing up to work at the 49ers' complex and working through physical therapy after receiving full medical clearance this week. He remains in limbo with his NFL future listed as a big TBD.
The 49ers continue to hold out hope that a team will come forward with a trade offer for Garoppolo. Any team that wants to acquire Garoppolo at this point might be reluctant to offer the 49ers anything in return -- even the expected late-round draft pick.
After all, it is apparent the 49ers will eventually release him to avoid being on the hook for his $24.2 million base salary for the coming season.
The 49ers can be stubborn and keep Garoppolo on their roster until Tuesday, Aug. 30, when NFL clubs must trim to the regular-season limit of 53 players.
The reason the 49ers do not want to turn loose Garoppolo at this point has everything to do with keeping him away from the Seattle Seahawks.
Garoppolo’s spot among NFL quarterbacks might be in debate among the 49ers’ fan base, but he is generally considered a middle-tier starter and an obvious upgrade over current Seahawks quarterbacks Geno Smith, Drew Lock and Jacob Eason.
The 49ers would prefer Garoppolo does not end up with the Seahawks. That is something they will not entirely be able to control. If no team steps up to present a trade offer, the 49ers will be forced to release Garoppolo and, then, he can sign with any team before the start of the regular season.
At the very least, the 49ers do not want to cut Garoppolo loose now, paving the way for him to sign with a division rival and getting a full training camp to become acclimated to the Seahawks’ offensive system.
And the 49ers certainly need no reminder that Week 2 of the regular season features Seattle’s trip to Levi’s Stadium on Sunday, Sept. 18.
If the Seahawks want Garoppolo, they’re going to have to pay some price to the 49ers to acquire him now — rather than wait a month and reduce the chances that he can be playing at a high level early in the season.
And with DK Metcalf signing a three-year contract extension on Thursday, it seems even more logical the Seahawks would want the best-possible answer at the quarterback position as quickly as possible.
The Seahawks are not the only team that could or should have interest in Garoppolo.
Perhaps, the Cleveland Browns will panic when the NFL announces its expected suspension of quarterback Deshaun Watson under the league’s personal-conduct policy.
The Miami Dolphins are a team that is believed to be high on Garoppolo’s list of ideal landing spots. Garoppolo would be familiar with the Dolphins’ offensive system under first-year coach Mike McDaniel, who previously served as Shanahan’s top offensive assistant.
Houston, Atlanta and the New York Giants are also teams in transitional stages that could determine Garoppolo would be a good fit.
The 49ers gave Garoppolo’s representation permission to seek a trade at least four months ago. No team would be expected to pay Garoppolo his entire scheduled salary, but it’s up to Garoppolo’s side and a team to work out the financial details.
The 49ers can continue to hold onto Garoppolo. But any team that wants him will have to decide how much to give the 49ers in return for acquiring the quarterback sooner than later.