The San Francisco 49ers made their intentions to draft a quarterback clear when they traded up to No. 3 overall, ultimately to select Trey Lance. The move didn't catch incumbent Jimmy Garoppolo off guard.
Niners general manager John Lynch told Colin Cowherd on Tuesday that the club kept Jimmy G apprised of the situation throughout the process.
"I think Jimmy's got a really good trust in myself and Kyle," Lynch said via 49ers WebZone. "I think you earn that, and I think from day one, we've been very upfront with Jimmy. When I went to Jimmy, I told him the truth. Like, 'Look, we have made a decision that we're going to pursue a quarterback this offseason. You know, Jimmy, when you've played, you've been tremendous, and the record speaks to that. We feel like there's room for growth. The biggest thing has been it's hard to keep you on the field.' That's not an easy thing to tell a player, but Jimmy took it tremendously."
Lynch reiterated that he told Garoppolo that the 49ers planned to keep him in San Francisco despite trade rumors. The QB is due a base salary of $24.1 million in 2021.
"And my other commitment was, 'But here's the good news, Jimmy. We don't want you to go anywhere,'" Lynch said. "'We want you to be here, and our ownership has made the commitment that we can do that. We can fit it in our cap, and we think it's a good situation for you; probably not the one you ultimately want to hear. I'm sure you want to be the long-term guy. There's a flip side to that. You still could be.' Because he's going to have a chance to compete and earn that job, and we're just going to let that play out. But Jimmy's a really good football player."
Niners brass has consistently said Garoppolo and Lance will compete for the starting reps. The truth of the matter is Jimmy G's claim to the starting throne will rest entirely on how ready Lance is to take over. If the rookie proves competent making reads and can run Kyle Shanahan's offense, he'll get the starting nod. If Shanahan feels Lance would benefit from some time watching from the sideline, Garoppolo will stick under center until such a time that either Lance is ready, injury strikes Jimmy G again, or the veteran QB struggles.
It's possible the 49ers wait out an injury elsewhere to trade Garoppolo if Lance earns the job over the summer. Just because San Francisco budgeted to keep Jimmy G at his current rate doesn't mean the club will be comfortable carrying that $26 million cap hit, particularly if he's a backup. So even with Lynch's flowery comments, there are still several forks in the road to drive past before Garoppolo spends the entire 2021 season in San Francisco on his current contract.