Let’s play a game. Pick the statement that is more true of the following sentences regarding the wild, woolly and wacky Jimmy G/49ers Scenario:
A) The 49ers landed a steal of a bargain for a backup quarterback.
B) The 49ers look scattered and indecisive, and are surely confusing their locker room.
A) The 49ers have egg on their face because their plan fell through.
B) The 49ers are making the best of a bad situation.
A) Trey Lance has a great relationship with Jimmy Garoppolo.
B) Trey Lance has to look over his shoulder all season.
A) If Trey Lance can’t perform because he fears for his job, he’s not cut for the NFL.
B) There are more ideal ways for Trey Lance to become the leader of the team than to wonder if the veterans would rather have Jimmy G.
A) Kyle Shanahan is committed to Trey Lance as QB1, naming him starter and saying the 49ers are Trey’s team.
B) Kyle Shanahan is hedging his bets by keeping Jimmy G.
Surprise answer key: All of the above are true!
All of these conflicting thoughts and situations — and more! — are brought to you by the 49ers, who stunningly restructured Jimmy Garoppolo’s $25 million contract Tuesday into a team-friendly $7 million cap number, then dropped a bomb on their fan base and the NFL by announcing:
Jimmy Garoppolo, a player they wanted to move on from so badly, they moved heaven and earth in the form of arguably the biggest trade in franchise history, is sticking around on the roster.
Jimmy Garoppolo, a player the 49ers had avoid practicing with the club all summer, a player the 49ers didn’t even have in their team meetings all summer, a player they had working out on a side field rather than with the team, is a snap away from QB1.
Jimmy Garoppolo, a player they wanted to trade so badly they waited seven months to hear an offer, is a 49er.
I confess that I am surprised not only by how this all played out, but by how head coach Kyle Shanahan and general manager John Lynch played it on Tuesday by saying, essentially: “What’s the big deal? Nothing to see here. Worked out great. Move along.”
On paper, it actually *does* work out great for the 49ers, in terms of personnel. Having Jimmy G on your depth chart is a good thing. He knows the playbook. He knows Kyle’s offense. He’s a wildly popular locker room figure.
And personally? I love the guy. I have fallen for his handsome Italian-American charms, mostly because he wins and wins and wins.
But to pretend that this isn’t all odd, awkward, unplanned — come on, man. After all, some of us have been doing 49ers QB Controversies since the 20th century. We all took the class “Strange Red and Gold QB Dynamics” from Professors Montana and Young back in college. Our kids learned the syllabus from Professors Smith and Kaepernick.
In an ideal world, 22-year-old Trey Lance takes the keys to the team and revs the engine, without looking in the rear-view mirror. No matter what you say about Jimmy G’s willingness to be a backup, or Jimmy G’s aw-shucks Midwestern persona, there’s no way Trey Lance won’t feel as if he’s one bad game from the bench.
And if the 49ers all say that’s how he should feel, and that’s life in the NFL — then why were you trying all summer to trade Jimmy G?
There’s that old PG-13 saying (kids cover your ears): Don’t pee on my leg and tell me it’s raining.
The 49ers’ answer could be: We didn’t want Jimmy at the $25 million price tag. We wanted him at the $7 million price tag. And that’s a fair answer.
From Jimmy G’s perspective, the most plausible answer to all the confusion would be: “I wanted to start in the NFL and make my $25 million. If not, I wanted to start in the NFL at a reduced rate with my new team.”
Neither of those scenarios came to pass. Mostly because of Jimmy G’s shoulder surgery this off-season, no suitors came forth. Jimmy G and his agents then had to realize that their situation was like a house on the market that isn’t selling. Sometimes, you gotta fold up the ‘FOR SALE’ sign and try the market next year.
Surely, Garoppolo’s personality plays a role in all this. He’s so agreeable that he doesn’t see any debilitating shame or embarrassment in taking a huge pay cut and dropping in the depth chart.
And also, he knows that the NFL is a strange place, that things happen, and that there’s a chance he’s the guy who is leading the 49ers out of the tunnel in a playoff game in January — right next to the giant boom box and Deebo Samuel.
This unexpected saga is like a football bouncing around artificial turf. And we all know the football, being oval, not round, bounces funny. Sometimes, the bounces go your way. The 49ers figured: might as well scoop it and run — and then see what happens.