Jimmy Garoppolo

Kyle Shanahan: Jimmy Garoppolo Expected To Start For 2021 49ers

Jimmy Garoppolo‘s contract has entered the year-to-year phase. The 49ers can easily move on from their starting quarterback, should they see an upgrade avenue. For now, that is not the plan.

Kyle Shanahan said Garoppolo still has a chance to return this season and expects him to return as San Francisco’s starter in 2021.

I expect Jimmy to be our starter next year,” Shanahan said, via ESPN.com’s Nick Wagoner. “I expect him to come and play with us this year. … But to think that we’ve made any decisions on anybody going into the future isn’t the case. Jimmy has won a lot of games for us. It’s a lot harder to win games when he’s not here. Just hoping we can get him back.”

The 49ers have Garoppolo on a team-friendly $27.5MM-per-year contract, one that calls for the former Patriots backup to earn a non-guaranteed $24.1MM in 2021 base salary. Were the 49ers to make a change, it would only cost them $2.8MM in dead money. Garoppolo’s deal expires after the 2022 season. San Francisco’s QB1 is currently on IR due to a high ankle sprain.

Garoppolo has impressed at times as a starter, leading last season’s defense-powered 49ers squad to Super Bowl LIV — after the largely Garoppolo-less 49ers went 4-12 in 2018. The 29-year-old passer ranked 12th in QBR in 2019, but even if he does return from this ankle ailment this season, Garoppolo will likely end 2020 having missed more than 20 games due to injury since the 49ers acquired him in 2017.

While the 2021 draft will likely see quarterbacks taken at Nos. 1 and 2 overall — Trevor Lawrence and Justin Fields — the 49ers may land out of the range of not just these two but at a draft position where acquiring North Dakota State’s Trey Lance would be difficult. BYU’s Zach Wilson, however, has emerged as possible Round 1 targets, with ESPN’s Mel Kiper Jr. ranking the Heisman candidate 13th on his latest 2021 big board.

Free agency could house a similar collection to 2020’s group, with only Tom Brady, Drew Brees and Teddy Bridgewater landing multiyear deals from this year’s top crop. The 49ers acquired Garoppolo via trade, and next year’s trade market could include the likes of Shanahan-coached MVP Matt Ryan or 12-year Lions starter Matthew Stafford. Of course, Garoppolo’s contract is friendlier than either of these Pro Bowlers’, and that will matter more ahead of a year that is expected to bring the biggest salary cap reduction in league history. Sam Darnold figures to land on the trade block, though Garoppolo has outplayed the former prized prospect.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Injury Updates: T. Brown, Garoppolo, Clowney

Let’s round up a few injury-related items from around the league.

  • Raiders OT Trent Brown is back on the reserve/COVID-19 list, and Ian Rapoport of NFL.com says Brown is expected to miss at least a month of action (Twitter link).
  • Jason La Canfora of CBS Sports confirms a report from several days ago that 49ers QB Jimmy Garoppolo will not require surgery on his injured ankle, but the 29-year-old signal-caller is expected to miss at least a month (Twitter link). The injury further clouds Garoppolo’s uncertain future in San Francisco.
  • Titans edge rusher Jadeveon Clowney is out for today’s game against the Bears. He is dealing with a meniscus issue and may ultimately opt for surgery.
  • The Browns have a bye this week, and next time they’re on the field, they hope to be rejoined by Pro Bowl running back Nick Chubb (Twitter link via Rapoport). Chubb has been dealing with an MCL injury, and though Kareem Hunt and D’Ernest Johnson have played reasonably well in his absence, getting Chubb back will be a big boost to Cleveland’s playoff push.
  • Some may be wondering if WR Odell Beckham has already played his last game for the Browns, as he will miss the rest of the season with an ACL tear and has never really embraced Cleveland. Kim Jones of WFAN reports that OBJ will undergo surgery to repair the ACL on Tuesday (Twitter link).
  • Ravens RB Mark Ingram left Baltimore’s game against the Eagles several weeks ago, and he still has not returned to action. Rapoport says Ingram is dealing with a high-ankle sprain (Twitter link), which explains the multi-week absence. Ingram has been ruled out for today’s game against the Colts, but younger backs Gus Edwards and J.K. Dobbins may be the better options anyway.
  • When the Eagles return to their facility following this week’s bye, they expect to have RB Miles Sanders back, and they believe WR Alshon Jeffery will be a full participant in practice (Twitter link via Rapoport).

49ers To Sign Josh Johnson

The 49ers are set to sign quarterback Josh Johnson, according to Matt Barrows of The Athletic (on Twitter). Once he clears COVID-19 protocols, Johnson will be added to the club’s practice squad. 

[RELATED: 49ers’ Bourne Tests Negative]

Johnson, 34, was last seen with the Los Angeles Wildcats of the XFL. Before the season even started, the veteran had an offer on the table from the Lions. However, the XFL stepped in and blocked him from that deal. Over the years, Johnson has signed deals with 13 different teams. That includes multiple stints with the 49ers in 2012 and 2014.

Now, he’ll backstop a QB room that has been without starter Jimmy Garoppolo for weeks. On that front, the Niners got some good news — doctors are not currently recommending surgery to fix his ankle injury and the hope is that he can return before the season is through. For the time being, he’ll remain on IR.

Nick Mullens served as the 49ers’ starter on Thursday against the Packers with C.J. Beathard as the QB2. After Mullens forced some bad throws, it’s possible that the depth chart could be reshuffled between now and their next game against the Saints.

Minor NFL Transactions: 11/5/20

Here are Thursday’s minor moves:

Baltimore Ravens

  • Activated from reserve/COVID-19 list: LB Matt Judon

Carolina Panthers

Cleveland Browns

Denver Broncos

Detroit Lions

Green Bay Packers

Las Vegas Raiders

Minnesota Vikings

  • Signed off Raiders’ practice squad: CB Dylan Mabin

Philadelphia Eagles

  • Placed on reserve/COVID-19 list: S Marcus Epps; Epps tested positive for the coronavirus but is believed to be asymptomatic, per Tom Pelissero of NFL.com (Twitter link)

San Francisco 49ers

Tennessee Titans

George Kittle, Jimmy Garoppolo Both To Miss Extended Time

The 49ers just can’t seem to catch a break. Already one of the most banged up teams in the league, San Francisco will now be without two of their most important pieces moving forward.

Quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo aggravated the high ankle sprain that has been bothering him for weeks during their loss to the Seahawks Sunday and is expected to miss “an extended period of time,” sources told Mike Garafolo of NFL Network (Twitter link). Meanwhile Kittle has a “small fracture” in his foot and will also miss extended time, Ian Rapoport of NFL Network tweets. Garoppolo is expected to be out a minimum of six weeks and “possibly longer” if he ends up needing surgery, Adam Schefter of ESPN.com tweets.

In a follow-up tweet, Rapoport noted that it’s unclear if Kittle will be able to return this season. Either way, it sounds like both are headed for a stint on injured reserve (minimum three-game absences). Kittle is expected to be out eight weeks, Schefter tweets. It would be hard for things to be much worse from an injury standpoint for the defending NFC champions right now.

The 49ers have already dealt with significant injuries to key players like Nick Bosa, Deebo Samuel, Raheem Mostert, Richard Sherman, and many others. Nick Mullens played well in relief of Jimmy G agains Seattle and will presumably start moving forward, although he was temporarily replaced by C.J. Beathard as the number two a couple of weeks ago.

Kittle is one of the league’s best players and critical in both the run and pass games. He missed a couple of contests earlier this year with a knee injury. The NFC West is tougher than ever, and at 4-4 San Fran is in danger of slipping out of the playoff race. Their trade of Kwon Alexander for a draft pick Monday could signal they realize 2020 isn’t their year. Kyle Shanahan has gotten it done under bad circumstances in the past, but he really has his work cut out for him now.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

This Date In Transactions History: Patriots Trade Jimmy Garoppolo To 49ers

Has it been three years already? On this date in 2017, the 49ers acquired quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo from the Patriots in exchange for a 2018 second-round pick. "<strong

The deal was a stunner on multiple levels, especially since New England hadn’t expressed in any interest in moving Garoppolo despite the presence of Tom Brady under center. Bill Belichick & Co. reportedly rejected multiple trade offers in exchange for Garoppolo before the draft, and instead dealt third-string quarterback Jacoby Brissett to the Colts before the season began.

Some believed that the Patriots would use the franchise tag on Garoppolo in the spring of ’18 before trying to trade him. Instead, they dealt Brady’s heir apparent just before the deadline in a deal that raised eyebrows for many. Some wondered whether the Patriots could have gotten more, or if Belichick had truly explored every possible trade partner for Garoppolo. The Browns, for example, were keenly interested in Jimmy G, but Belichick reportedly wasn’t interested in helping his former employer.

Garoppolo offered limited NFL experience outside of two starts for New England in 2016 while Brady was serving a four-game suspension. Garoppolo played well in his time on the field, but he was injured early in his second start, so the regular season film on him is extremely limited. Still, Kyle Shanahan saw a future franchise QB in the youngster, and ownership was willing to work with him on a pricey long-term extension before he could walk in free agency.

For the Patriots, the deal signaled confidence in Brady’s vow to play for several more seasons, despite the fact that he was already 40 years old. Brady made good on his promise, though he’s now defying Father Time in Tampa Bay. Signing a backup to a top-tier, multi-year contract was never a real option and a one-year, top 5 QB salary was certainly not the Patriots’ style. There was no circumstance in which Jimmy G could have held the clipboard for Brady for another three years, but it’s fair to second guess the Patriots’ timing. Had they traded Garoppolo prior to the 2017 NFL Draft — and considered all suitors equally — they could have scored a much larger haul.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Jimmy Garoppolo’s Future With 49ers In Doubt?

The 49ers have been ravaged by injury this year, but they’re hanging tough at 3-3. Though that mark presently has them in last place in the talented NFC West, the addition of a seventh playoff spot for each conference means that San Francisco is still very much in postseason contention.

Like so many of his teammates, starting quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo was bitten by the injury bug this season, as a high ankle sprain forced him to miss two games and clearly impacted him in an embarrassing Week 5 loss to the Dolphins. Though Jimmy G did play well in last week’s victory over the Rams, Jason La Canfora of CBS Sports says the signal-caller’s future with the Niners is in doubt.

After San Francisco traded for Garoppolo partway through the 2017 campaign, the former Patriots’ second-rounder posted a 5-0 record and landed a five-year, $137.5MM contract the following offseason. But a torn ACL wiped out most of his 2018 season, and though he led his team to a Super Bowl appearance last year, questions about his consistency have persisted.

All of his guarantees will have been paid out by the end of the year, so if the 49ers look to move on, they will be able to save about $24.1MM against the cap. Of course, they would need to earmark at least some of that money for another signal-caller, but HC Kyle Shanahan believes he can win with any number of options under center.

One league source who has worked with Shanahan said, “Kyle thinks he can turn almost anyone into a star. He’s had a lot of success with a lot of different guys and the salary structure on that team has changed dramatically the last few years. He’s not a guy who thinks he needs a $30 million a year QB to win. And they aren’t exactly gushing about the guy that they have now.”

“It’s wait and see,” another source with knowledge of the situation said. “[Garoppolo is] still under evaluation. It could go in a few different directions, and is it possible he’s not the guy next year? That’s fair. I don’t think that’s lost on anybody.”

La Canfora names Matt Ryan and Kirk Cousins as potential replacements if the team chooses to go in a different direction, though Cousins in particular would seem to be be a downgrade from Garoppolo. However, many executives expect the QB market to be active again in 2021, and Shanahan and GM John Lynch may be active in that market. If they really want to save money in a year when the salary cap is expected to decrease, they could trade Garoppolo and find their next signal-caller in the draft.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

IR/Activation Notes: Njoku, 49ers, Rams, Giants

David Njoku is back. The Browns announced this morning that they’ve activated the tight end from the injured reserve.

The 24-year-old suffered a knee injury during Cleveland’s season opener, and he was subsequently placed on IR. He was designated for return earlier this week, and coach Kevin Stefanski indicated that Njoku would see the field sooner than later. The tight end had three receptions for 50 yards and one touchdown in Week 1, surpassing some of the totals he compiled during his injury-plagued 2019 campaign.

Njoku requested a trade back in July, only to rescind it in early August. While the former first-rounder sits behind free agent addition Austin Hooper on the depth chart (and has to battle the likes of Odell Beckham Jr., Jarvis Landry, and Kareem Hunt for targets), Njoku should still see a role in the offense going forward.

Let’s check out some more IR/activation notes from around the NFL…

  • The 49ers‘ injury woes continue, as Matt Barrows of The Athletic reports (via Twitter) that defensive end Ezekiel Ansah (biceps) and cornerback K’Waun Williams (knee/hip) are heading to the IR. Ansah joined San Francisco in late September, and he’s proceeded to appear in two games. He spent the 2019 campaign with the Seahawks, finishing with 18 tackles, two forced fumbles, and 2.5 sacks. Williams has spent the past three-plus seasons with the 49ers, and he’s started two of his four appearances this season. Fortunately, there is some good news out of San Francisco, as head coach Kyle Shanahan told reporters that quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo will start Sunday against the Dolphins (via ESPN’s Adam Schefter on Twitter). Garoppolo has missed the past two-plus games, with the team mostly turning to Nick Mullens in his stead.
  • 2020 third-round pick Terrell Lewis could make his debut for the Rams this weekend. Jourdan Rodrigue of The Athletic tweets that the rookie linebacker has been activated off the IR. Following a stint on the reserve/COVID-19 list, Lewis underwent a knee scope just before the start of the season. The former Alabama standout could immediately see some time on the edge for the Rams.
  • The Giants placed linebacker Oshane Ximines on IR with a shoulder injury, reports SNY’s Ralph Vacchiano (via Twitter). The 2019 third-rounder saw time in all 16 games as a rookie, finishing with 4.5 sacks. He started three of the Giants first four games in 2020, collecting five tackles.

49ers Activate Deebo Samuel From IR

Deebo Samuel is on track to be in action Sunday night. The 49ers are activating their No. 1 wide receiver ahead of his earliest possible return date.

Samuel suffered a Jones fracture in his foot in June, underwent surgery and landed on IR to start the season. While Kyle Shanahan has said the second-year wideout is working his way back into game shape, it appears he will have a role Sunday night against the Eagles.

Like the Eagles, the 49ers have been decimated by injuries. Samuel’s return will come in a game that will feature both Jimmy Garoppolo and starting running back Raheem Mostert inactive. But San Francisco will have its top two pass catchers — Samuel and George Kittle — in uniform.

Samuel broke out down the stretch last season, emerging as a dominant run-after-catch player for the 2019 NFC champions. He will work with Nick Mullens on Sunday night, with the 49ers’ QB2 set to make a second start.

The 49ers, however, placed two more key cogs — Dee Ford and Jordan Reed — on IR this week. That list has become quite crowded, though the 49ers have won two blowouts — over the struggling New York teams — amid this run of injury misfortune.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

George Kittle, Jimmy Garoppolo To Miss Week 3

The 49ers will be starting backups at nearly every non-offensive line position on offense against the Giants on Sunday. Despite George Kittle getting in three limited practices this week, the 49ers will hold their All-Pro tight end out.

Same goes for Jimmy Garoppolo, though San Francisco’s staring quarterback did not practice this week. The 49ers will play a game without their starting quarterback, their top two running backs from Super Bowl LIV, their No. 1 wide receiver and their recently extended tight end.

Kittle is on his way back from a knee sprain, and the three limited practices point to the 49ers having him ready to go against the Eagles in Week 4. But the 27-year-old star pass catcher will miss two games for a second straight season.

Nick Mullens will start for Garoppolo, who ended up receiving better-than-expected news about his high ankle sprain, and a currently healthy Jordan Reed will line up as the 49ers’ first-string tight end at the same MetLife Stadium venue that further depleted the team’s depth chart.

The list of would-be 49ers starters/key contributors who will not be in uniform against the Giants: Garoppolo, Kittle, Raheem Mostert, Tevin Coleman, Deebo Samuel, Weston Richburg, Nick Bosa, Dee Ford, Solomon Thomas, Dre Greenlaw and Richard Sherman.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.