This is the first installment of a nine-part series that examines the 49ers’ roster coming out of the 2019 season, looks ahead to 2020, and outlines the offseason challenges facing general manager John Lynch and coach Kyle Shanahan on a position-by-position basis.
Monday, a look at the 49ers’ quarterback position.
Under contract (signed through)
-Jimmy Garoppolo (2022)
-C.J. Beathard (2020)
As an exclusive-rights free agent, Mullens has no outside negotiating power. The 49ers retain his rights with a qualifying offer, but they could also look to sign him this offseason to a multi-year contract.
What needs to happen
The 49ers kept three quarterbacks on their 53-man roster last season because they believed the third quarterback held more value than a backup player at another position. That strategy did not cost the 49ers.
Despite keeping an extra quarterback, the 49ers were still able to bring back the top players they cut at the end of training camp when they needed them. Those players included running back Jeff Wilson, safety Marcell Harris, linebacker Elijah Lee and defensive lineman Damontre Moore.
This offseason, the 49ers will again be open-minded about the possibility of trading a quarterback. Beathard is scheduled for unrestricted free agency after this season, so it is unlikely the 49ers will be able to keep all three quarterbacks beyond this year.
The 49ers can also be expected to sign a fourth quarterback for the offseason program and training camp. They are likely to pick up an undrafted rookie who could have a shot at the practice squad if the 49ers deal away one of their QBs.
Garoppolo threw for the fourth-most yards in franchise history in 2019. He was particularly impressive over the final 10 games of the regular season, when he achieved passer ratings of 110-or-better seven times.
Garoppolo started 19 games, including the postseason. In the Super Bowl, he completed 18 of his first 21 pass attempts. But in the final 10 minutes, he went 2 of 10 for 24 yards with an interception and a sack. The 49ers let a 10-point fourth-quarter lead get away in a 31-20 loss to the Kansas City Chiefs in Super Bowl LIV. Afterward, Shanahan backed Garoppolo.
Garoppolo had never before started more than five games in a season before 2019. He should be even better in 2020 with a great knowledge of coach Kyle Shanahan’s system and the valuable experience he gained.
Overall, Garoppolo threw 29 touchdowns and 16 interceptions. A reasonable expectation is that he cuts his interception total in half for the 2020 season.
Mullens won the backup job last year over Beathard. Despite not attempting a pass, Mullens believes he made improvements behind the scenes that will be apparent the next time he gets a chance.
The 49ers should feel good about their quarterback situation entering the season, and there is no reason for the 49ers to make any significant move at this position.