49ers' Jimmy Garoppolo facing 'prove-it time,' ESPN analyst believes

49ers' Jimmy Garoppolo facing 'prove-it time,' ESPN analyst believes

Are the 49ers married to quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo?

On the surface, his contract says "Yes."

But coach Kyle Shanahan and general manager John Lynch had a bit of a wandering eye this offseason when they pondered the idea of pursuing Tom Brady in free agency.

The 49ers ultimately decided to stick with Garoppolo, but it doesn't necessarily mean Shanahan and Lynch won't move on if they feel someone better is available.

ESPN's Dan Graziano took a look at all 32 NFL teams and ranked them based on their level of commitment to their current starting quarterback, and he ranked the 49ers at No. 26.

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Despite the fact that Garoppolo is 23-6 as a starter in the NFL, including the playoffs, and just led the 49ers to the Super Bowl, Graziano says it is "prove-it time" for the quarterback.

Why are the 49ers and Garoppolo so low considering he's under contract for three more seasons?

"It sounds crazy to call it "prove-it time" for a quarterback who's [21-5] as an NFL starter and just played in the Super Bowl," Graziano wrote. "But the fact is the way the 49ers structure their contracts, everyone is always in prove-it time.

"Garoppolo has a $23.8 million salary in 2020, but just $15.7 million of that is guaranteed, and the Niners owe him no more guaranteed money after 2020. The dead-money cap hit for cutting Garoppolo next offseason would be just $2.8 million.

"There's no reason to think they don't like Garoppolo or that he won't play out his entire contract there. But San Francisco's policy on flexibility doesn't exempt its quarterback, and the organization will always have the financial freedom to make a change at the position if it feels it needs to."

Garoppolo has his detractors, but most of the criticism is unwarranted. The results speak for themselves. Yes, he didn't play particularly well against the Kansas City Chiefs in Super Bowl LIV, but he's 28 years old and still has room to improve.

All that said, it shouldn't shock anyone if the 49ers were to part ways with Garoppolo in the next year or two. Lynch and Shanahan are in salary cap hell right now. Fitting a contract extension for All-Pro tight end George Kittle under the salary cap is proving to be difficult. DeForest Buckner, one of the leaders of the 49ers' stout defense, was traded because he had become too pricey.

So as committed as the 49ers might be to Garoppolo right now, that could change as early as next offseason. They could let Garoppolo go and turn things over to Nick Mullens, who played well while Garoppolo recovered from a torn ACL in 2018. Or they could look to draft a quarterback in the near future.

Or Garoppolo could run it back in 2020, win the Super Bowl, and the 49ers could decide to keep him long-term while worrying about the salary cap gymnastics elsewhere.

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Watch 49ers' George Kittle bench press a ridiculous amount in workout

Watch 49ers' George Kittle bench press a ridiculous amount in workout

If you want to know how strong George Kittle is, you can just ask Marcus Williams.

If you don't have the ability to contact an NFL safety and/or don't want to troll one on social media while trying to do so, you can just watch this video of the 49ers tight end bench-pressing a ridiculous amount of weight courtesy of trainer Josh Cuthbert.

That's five plates on each side of the bar, which Cuthbert said in a comment on his post added up to 375 pounds.

So, Kittle could bench press new 49ers left tackle Trent Williams' listed weight on the team website ... and still have 55 pounds to work with.

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Cuthbert conspiculously included the hashtag #PayGeorgeKittle, referring to the star tight end's contract extension negotiations with the 49ers. Kittle didn't share that post on his Instagram story, which shouldn't be much of a surprise considering his prior comments about not wanting to hold out.

“Being a captain, I want to be there for my team and I need to show the right leadership skills,” Kittle said.

Even if Kittle did hold out, it'd be hard to argue against the example that video would set from a distance.

[RELATED: Taylor shows off muscles, gets roasted by 49ers teammates]

It's not clear if Kittle and the 49ers will agree to a contract extension before training camp is scheduled to begin later this month. NBC Sports Bay Area's Matt Maiocco reported last month that the two sides haven't appeared to make much progress.

If and when Kittle reaches an agreement with the 49ers, they'll know he pretty easily could bench-press the table it's signed upon.

49ers' Trent Taylor hilariously trolled by teammates for muscle pose

49ers' Trent Taylor hilariously trolled by teammates for muscle pose

The 49ers love to rip on one another, and no player's Instagram posts are safe.

Exhibit No. 4,949 (give or take)? Trent Taylor's thirst trap Instagram photo from earlier this week.

View this post on Instagram

Stache Gainz (early stages)

A post shared by Trent Nelson Taylor (@trent5taylor) on

Based on the picture above, you surely know what followed.

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Taylor didn't play a single game in 2019, missing all of the season due to complications with his injured foot. You wouldn't know that reading the comments, though.

The 26-year-old slot receiver was a fixture at the 49ers' player-organized workouts earlier in the offseason, rebuilding a connection with quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo that was so strong in 2017. Taylor could play a big role this season, considering Deebo Samuel and Richie James' offseason injuries.

[RELATED: What Garrett's reported extension means for Bosa, 49ers]

The 49ers hope Taylor can reach his 2017 level, and some big performances surely would lead to more Instagram posts.

That, more than anything, might be why his teammates want to see Taylor succeed.