STATELINE, Nev. -- Until Trey Lance fully proves he is capable of taking over as the 49ers’ starting quarterback, Pro Football Hall of Famer Steve Young can understand why the organization might want to keep Jimmy Garoppolo around.
The 49ers traded up to No. 3 overall to select Lance in the 2021 NFL Draft. Garoppolo remained as the starter last season while Lance served as his backup. Garoppolo played well, helping the 49ers reach the NFC Championship Game, and he kept the drama to a minimum with how he handled the situation off the field.
“He did a good job,” Young said of Garoppolo. “It was hard and it was complicated. I really appreciate his spirit in how he did that. It was a tough spot and he did a good job.
“So here we are today with a full commitment, it seems, from the 49ers to say Jimmy is going to move on. So we get that part. Is it really full? I don’t know. I think there’s still a chance Jimmy is on the team. I think we need to recognize that.”
Lance has not had the opportunity to establish himself, and that’s why Young said he does not believe it is completely out of the question for Garoppolo to remain with the organization as a possible high-priced insurance policy.
“Until Trey has a chance to take it, they need to make sure they got this covered,” Young said. “Do you pay $24 million to have it covered? Until Jimmy’s gone, you got to know that Jimmy’s personality is capable of coming back into that locker room and not causing too much grief.
“But I don’t think that’s going to happen.”
Garoppolo is expected to get medically cleared from shoulder surgery in the coming weeks. Once he is available, the 49ers will likely ramp up their efforts to trade him. If there are no takers, the 49ers will face a situation of whether to retain him and his salary or release him and create $24.2 million in cap room that can be invested in other players on their roster.
The most likely scenario for Garoppolo to still enter the season as a starter is with the Cleveland Browns. The Browns last week traded Baker Mayfield to the Carolina Panthers. The club also awaits the NFL’s decision on likely discipline for Deshaun Watson under the NFL’s policy on personal conduct.
“The Browns have a problem,” Young said. “They have no quarterback. So there’s a possibility they would trade (for Garoppolo), but they might just wait for him to get cut.
"So I don’t know, short of cutting Jimmy, if there’s something to get done.”