The 49ers’ biggest offseason failure ended up being their biggest success.
The organization decided to move on from quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo and turn the team over to second-year player Trey Lance.
But when the 49ers struck out on a deal to get a nice price in return for Garoppolo, it actually turned out they hit a home run with an agreement to retain him as the No. 2 quarterback.
The 49ers felt as if they had two legitimate starting quarterbacks on their roster in a league in which there are simply not enough NFL-caliber starters to lead every team in the league.
Garoppolo’s strong season continued on Monday night, as he tied a career best with four touchdown passes in the 49ers’ 38-10 thrashing of the Arizona Cardinals in Mexico City.
And that leads us into this week’s edition of 49ers Overreactions:
If Jimmy continues this kind of play and wins a Super Bowl, he’s 49ers QB1 next year. (IG: caliking7)
Overreaction? No, but . . .
It’s not an overreaction to think or believe Jimmy Garoppolo could be back if the 49ers go all the way this season.
Heck, there will be many of the opinion Garoppolo should be back, regardless of how far the 49ers go in the NFL playoffs.
But those thoughts might not be realistic, either.
After all, Garoppolo is in the final year of his contract with the 49ers.
He accepted a significant pay cut to remain with the team this season after the 49ers and Garoppolo’s side could not find him a new team. Part of the new deal is a provision that the 49ers are not allowed to place the franchise tag on him.
Garoppolo will be available on the open market and free to sign with the highest bidder. So how far would the 49ers go to retain him?
Salary cap space is one thing. The 49ers will try to sign defensive end Nick Bosa to a multiyear contract that could make him the highest paid defensive player in the NFL.
They also have to account for the rising contracts of Christian McCaffrey, Trent Williams, Deebo Samuel, George Kittle, Arik Armstead, Fred Warner and Charvarius Ward.
Would they be ready to turn the page on Trey Lance just two seasons after the huge trade to move up to No. 3 overall in the 2021 NFL Draft to select him?
Doubtful, very doubtful.
But it’s Garoppolo and the 49ers, so good luck trying to predict what’s going to happen.
Jimmy to Jets next year. (IG: therealmasterfisherman)
It sure looks as if second-year quarterback Zach Wilson is wearing out his welcome in New York rather quickly. He has been benched in favor of ... Mike White?
Wilson is a talented young player who appears to have none of Garoppolo’s intangibles or likability.
Coach Robert Saleh and offensive coordinator Mike LaFleur know Garoppolo. And to know Garoppolo is to appreciate him.
When Garoppolo becomes a free agent, it is not a stretch to believe that the New York Jets could be one of the teams that would be interested.
Trey Lance will have to earn that QB spot this time around. It will not be given to him. (IG: next_levl)
Lance’s role with the 49ers will be settled by the second week of March. There will be no competition for the starting job.
Let’s put it this way: Wherever Garoppolo ends up during free agency in the spring of 2023, he will be signed to a contract that automatically makes him the starter.
It’s really as simple as that.
The passing game is opening up the run game now (IG: working365)
Overreaction? No (and vice versa).
The biggest factor that led to the 49ers’ run-pass ratio on Monday night was how the Arizona Cardinals implemented their game plan.
Arizona essentially played a six-man defensive line and challenged the 49ers to throw the football.
As a result, Garoppolo completed 14 of 21 pass attempts for 153 yards with two touchdowns and no interceptions.
After the 49ers experienced success in the air, the Cardinals made some adjustments, which allowed for the 49ers to turn to the running game in the second half.
In other words, when one area of the 49ers’ offense is working, there will be opportunities for other areas to enjoy success, too.
Kyle Shanahan has finally decided to stop being conservative in the second half with a 10-point lead. (IG: ninerbulls)
The only thing that usually changes with Shanahan’s play-calling are the circumstances of the games and the perception based on the results.
The 49ers attempted 21 passes in the first half and took a 17-10 lead into the third quarter.
Then, the 49ers attempted 21 run plays compared to just eight passes in the final 30 minutes while outscoring the Cardinals 21-0.
If you equate conservative play-calling with running the ball, then the exact opposite is true.
In fact, if you’re referring to the 10-point lead the 49ers lost in Super Bowl LIV, the biggest knock on Shanahan’s play-calling was that he was not conservative enough. He was widely criticized for not running the ball on every play to protect the team’s fourth-quarter lead.
On Monday, the 49ers had success because they did what they do well. Garoppolo attempted only five passes of 20 yards or more in the air. He was 1-of-4 with a 39-yard touchdown to George Kittle on a play that was not drawn up that way.
49ers are in fact the best/most physical/most talented team in the NFC. (IG: dern89)
Of course, this is open for debate, but if you believe the 49ers are the best, most-physical, most-talented team in the NFC, you can have the material to make a compelling argument.
Garoppolo is playing as well as he ever has since coming to the 49ers in the middle of the 2017 season. We mentioned some of their skill players earlier, but this is a versatile, hard-charging bunch with McCaffrey, Elijah Mitchell, Kyle Juszczyk, Kittle, Samuel and Aiyuk.
The 49ers’ offensive line objectively has proven to be a solid group, led by Williams, who widely is regarded as the best left tackle in the league.
Then, there’s a defense that has played at a high level for all but that game five weeks ago against the Kansas City Chiefs.
The Philadelphia Eagles and Minnesota Vikings are the teams that clearly have been better (or, at least, more consistent) than the 49ers this season. But the 49ers appear to be trending up, while those teams atop of the NFC right now are looking more and more vulnerable.