The San Francisco 49ers were the talk of the football world Friday after completing a blockbuster trade with the Miami Dolphins to move up from No. 12 in the first round of the 2021 NFL Draft all the way to No. 3 overall.
The cost for the 49ers to make this move was substantial -- three first-round picks and third-rounder.
The move likely means the 49ers are going to select one of the top quarterbacks in the 2021 draft class, which, of course, ignited even more debate and speculation over Jimmy Garoppolo's place as the team's franchise QB.
If the 29-year-old quarterback is going to be traded, one of the most popular destinations being discussed is the New England Patriots, who drafted Garoppolo in 2014 before dealing him to the 49ers in 2017. The Patriots need an upgrade at quarterback, and if they don't see a long-term solution in the draft, trading for a veteran like Garoppolo would be a smart move.
After making this bold move to jump nine spots in the draft order, is it fair to say Garoppolo isn't the future for the 49ers at the quarterback position?
"I think the 49ers' actions made that clear today when they traded up for the No. 3 pick," NBC Sports Bay Area's 49ers insider Matt Maiocco said Friday night on NBC Sports Boston.
"If a quarterback is your guy, he's just not your guy for that season or for the first game of the season, he's your guy for the long term. The 49ers have him under contract for this year and next year, but clearly the signal is that Jimmy is our guy for as long as he's our guy, and he's not going to be their guy much longer. He's not going to be their guy looking ahead to 2022."
Could the 49ers actually keep Garoppolo through 2021 even if they draft a quarterback with the No. 3 pick next month?
"I think the template for this is what the Chiefs did when they had Alex Smith coming off a very good season and Patrick Mahomes after they traded up to get him," Maiocco said. "And then Alex Smith remained the starting quarterback for one more year, but the other side to this is if that rookie comes in and lights it up during training camp and the 49ers feel he's the better guy, then Jimmy is gone before the season even starts."
What would it take for the Patriots to acquire Garoppolo? Our insider Phil Perry examined that scenario Friday.