Former NFL executive Michael Lombardi isn't buying what the 49ers are selling.
Despite the organization's repeated insistence that Jimmy Garoppolo will be their starting quarterback in 2021, Lombardi wrote last week that he believes the 49ers have their eyes on an upgrade at the position.
"[Do] I believe 49ers general manager John Lynch when he claims that Garoppolo will be his starter in 2021? Of course not," Lombardi wrote for The Athletic on March 4. "They are too active, too aggressive to run it back one more year with someone they don’t have complete trust in. Don’t forget that this time last year I wrote a column about how the 49ers might entertain [Tom] Brady. And if they followed through with their initial instincts, their season might have been slightly different."
Lombardi speculated that the 49ers would be interested in New York Jets quarterback Sam Darnold -- who he wrote is available for a top-10 pick in the second round, which San Francisco doesn't currently have -- and Houston Texans quarterback Deshaun Watson. Darnold fits coach Kyle Shanahan's profile of an ideal QB, according to Lombardi, but the 49ers and other teams don't want to "cash out on one quarterback" in the event the Texans finally grant Watson's trade request.
The 49ers have gone on the record multiple times to stand by Garoppolo. Lynch said last month San Francisco will prioritize adding capable depth behind the QB rather than replacing him.
Teams can begin negotiating with free agents a week from Monday, so we could soon know whether or not Lynch's defense of Garoppolo was the whole truth. It sounds like Lombardi won't believe the 49ers are sticking with the embattled QB until he sees Garoppolo under center in the regular season.