INDIANAPOLIS — Coach Kyle Shanahan left little wiggle room last month when he stated he saw no scenario that could lead to quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo remaining with the 49ers.
General manager John Lynch was asked on the latest episode of "49ers Talk" whether he agreed with Shanahan’s opinion.
“I do,” Lynch answered.
Garoppolo’s five-year contract extension, which briefly made him the game’s highest-paid player in 2018, expires this month. He figures to have an opportunity to be a starter elsewhere in the NFL.
“I think I’ve learned never to [speak in] absolutes because things can change,” Lynch said, “but I really believe Jimmy is going to be coveted out there on the free-agent market.”
Garoppolo appeared to be on his way out a year ago, too. At the conclusion of the 2021 NFL season, Garoppolo said his goodbyes to the organization. The 49ers spoke with teams about a trade.
But Garoppolo’s trade value tanked once it was revealed he would require extensive surgery on his throwing shoulder. There were no suitors through the preseason. The 49ers and Garoppolo agreed to a reduced contract in order for him to remain with the club as Trey Lance’s backup.
He quickly became the starter when Lance sustained a season-ending fractured right fibula and ankle ligament damage in Week 2.
The 49ers went 7-3 with Garoppolo at quarterback last season before his campaign ended in Week 13 with a fractured foot. Garoppolo completed 67.2 percent of his pass attempts with 16 touchdowns, four interceptions and a passer rating of 103.0.
“I’m very grateful to Jimmy,” Lynch said. “Around this time, what I focus on is this guy won a lot of football games for us. Did we fall short of where we ultimately wanted to be? Yeah, we did, just by a little bit.
“I’m so grateful to Jimmy for everything he did for our organization. He played some really good football and was a great teammate.”
The 49ers were 38-17 in games Garoppolo started and 4-2 with him in the NFL playoffs.
However, Garoppolo experienced difficulty remaining on the field. In his five full seasons with the 49ers, he missed 31 games due to injuries.
Garoppolo, Derek Carr and, possibly, Aaron Rodgers are expected to be among the veteran quarterbacks who could be switching teams this offseason.
Garoppolo might not be the most accomplished quarterback on the market, but Lynch said he believes Garoppolo ranks favorably as a pure passer.
“Even good football people, I tell them, if you’re around this guy every day, he’s a freak, the way the ball comes out of his hand, how quick his release is, his ability to just, boom, without really setting his feet,” Lynch said. “He does some freaky things.”
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The arrival of Garoppolo signaled a shift in attitude for the 49ers and their fan base. The 49ers were 0-8 when Garoppolo joined the team in 2017 after a trade from the New England Patriots.
After Garoppolo took over as the starter, the 49ers won five consecutive games to close out the season. The 49ers now enjoy a significant home-field advantage at Levi’s Stadium, but that was not always the case.
“He created a lot of energy,” Lynch said. “A lot of that was started on that run we made.”