Quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo is beginning his third season with the 49ers since signing his lucrative extension with the club in February 2019.
It is a big year because the five-year, $137.5 million contract was structured in a way that would not negatively impact the salary in any meaningful way if the 49ers decided to move on from Garoppolo after 2020.
He would count just $2.8 million in dead money on the 2021 cap if the 49ers were to trade or release him after this season.
The 49ers have restructured some contracts of high-priced veteran players, including defensive end Dee Ford last week, but they have not touched Garoppolo’s contract to make it less financially beneficial for them to move on from him in the future.
General manager John Lynch said there should be nothing read into that decision.
“Jimmy is our quarterback, and we’ve stated that numerous times,” Lynch said Sunday. “Jimmy is as big a part of our plans as he’s ever been. And we’re really excited having Jimmy Garoppolo as our quarterback going into this year.”
Garoppolo, 28, has started 27 games since arriving from New England in a 2017 midseason trade. The 49ers are 21-6 in those games, including a 31-20 loss to the Kansas City Chiefs in Super Bowl LIV.
After starting every game last season, Garoppolo is expected to benefit from that experience within coach Kyle Shanahan’s system in noticeable fashion in 2020.
“That position is one, they should grow each and every year because they’re more experienced in a scheme,” Lynch said. “And I think we all know this scheme demands a lot from that position. Kyle demands a lot from his quarterbacks.”
Garoppolo ranked in the top 10 in franchise history in a single season in passing yards (3,978), touchdown passes (27), passer rating (102.0), completion percentage (69.1) and yards per attempt (8.4).
Lynch said he believes Garoppolo and the coaching staff made the most of the situation when the NFL shut down offseason programs due to the COVID-19 pandemic. And he said he was encouraged by what he saw from Garoppolo after the club reported back to Santa Clara for practices.
“Jimmy’s come back and performed really well in camp and we’re excited,” Lynch said.
“The history of quarterbacks in this system, it shows, right around now is when they start hitting stride. And we think Jimmy has already done that. So we’re excited to see where this goes, but proud of him for the way he’s prepared himself to lead our team.”