49ers Mailbag: Wait, what just happened? QB chaos in San Francisco (2023)

What just happened? My head is still spinning from the news that the San Francisco 49ers have decided to keep quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo on the roster. For months, we believed last year's signal-caller would be headed elsewhere. But the 49ers were unable to trade Garoppolo, and the two sides reached an agreement on a new, incentive-filled contract that will keep the quarterback in San Francisco for the 2022 season. That is, unless another team ends up needing a starting quarterback, in which case, I'm sure Garoppolo would be willing to waive his no-trade clause.

There have been many rumors, opinions and conspiracy theories on why and how this came together. I even heard that a couple of reporters have suggested Garoppolo waited until March to have his surgery so that he wouldn't be traded. That makes no sense to me, but I was wrong about how this would turn out. Then again, so was everyone else.

And for good reason. Garoppolo had said his goodbyes. He wasn't practicing with the team. He didn't have a playbook, wasn't in meetings, and at the beginning of training camp, still had not even met the new quarterback coach, Brian Griese.

But none of that mattered because Garoppolo is back. And if Trey Lance struggles, or sustains an injury, the 49ers are in a much better position than they would have been with Nate Sudfeld or Brock Purdy as the backup.

We opened the 49ers Webzone mailbag this week, and discovered not much was in there. Just a handful of comments and questions, mainly surrounding the quarterbacks and the offensive line. Let's take a quick look and respond to a few questions.

Will Jimmy G be QB#2? - Niner Jim

Yes, the 49ers have reworked Garoppolo's contract to make him the backup quarterback, solidifying Lance as the starter. Garoppolo will be paid like a backup, and both Shanahan and John Lynch made it clear that Lance is the starter.

Lynch told reporters on Tuesday, "...this situation with Jimmy has been going on for some time. I think we've been consistent with a player of his caliber, you don't just allow him to walk and then other things complicated as we've talked about a lot with his shoulder surgery. And so that never materialized, obviously there were going to be some deadlines, but Kyle and I just started floating the idea probably a month ago. What if we kept them here in a backup capacity and at some point, we shared that with Jimmy."

Shanahan, when asked if this changes anything, regarding his comments earlier this summer about the 49ers being "Trey's team," answered, "Not at all. That's why Trey is our starting quarterback. That's why Jimmy wasn't an option unless he came in as a backup role. And that didn't become an option until it was clear that, at least so far, no one was giving him the exact opportunity. Yeah, this doesn't change anything and I just feel it makes us a much better team and doesn't hurt our cap like it would've."

So I think it's clear that Garoppolo will go into week one as the backup. And I think the 49ers will be patient with Lance. It will take a lot to force Shanahan to make a change. And by a lot, I mean an injury or Lance being horrid. And I don't think Lance will be horrid, even while he learns.

Will the 49ers keep Purdy over Sudfeld? - Chris Wahl

Will the 49ers keep Brock Purdy? - Kyle Swanton

Seriously, with JG now staying, what does that say for Purdy? Suds? - Niner Jim

There was a lot of concern out there for rookie quarterback Broke Purdy. A lot of fans like what Purdy showed in the preseason. And now Purdy has made the 53-man roster.

With Lance as the starter, Garoppolo as the backup, and Purdy as the number three QB, that means Nate Sudfeld was released.

Quite frankly, I am ok with all of this. I still believe in Lance. He has a bright future. Garoppolo gives the 49ers some insurance in case Lance is injured (and with this offensive line, that's certainly possible). And I like what I saw from Purdy, as well. Sudfeld played well in the preseason, but I'm just not sure how much better he will get.

Rest easy, 49ers fans. Your rookie sensation is safely nestled on the 53-man roster.

Why can't Trey push Jimmy out the door? - Aaron Thissen

Garoppolo is signed for the 2022 season. I would say he won't be in Santa Clara for the 2023 season, but we've just learned that we can't predict this stuff.

The 49ers used three first-round picks to draft Trey Lance. And they tried to trade Garoppolo this offseason. The fact that they brought Garoppolo back for this season should not reflect on Lance, but rather on the lack of market for your new backup QB. I truly don't believe this has anything to do with how well or how bad Lance has looked. I think it says more about Sudfeld and Purdy than anything.

We all remember how the 2018 and 2020 seasons went downhill after Garoppolo got hurt. What if Lance goes down? You've wasted a season with a stacked roster.

Garoppolo should be somewhere else next season, and then you can tell everyone "Trey pushed Jimmy out the door." Or maybe Lance shows he's not the guy, and the 49ers bring Garoppolo back. Who knows? Right now, Lance just needs to do his thing, learn all he can, get reps and win games.

Why is John afraid to upgrade the o line? -Jake Lang

By John, I assume you're speaking of John Lynch, and not John York.

Lynch has upgraded the offensive line. First, he traded for Trent Williams, and then he paid Williams more than anyone at that position. He also brought in Alex Mack in 2021. Mack chose to retire this offseason.

Now, I will agree that we may soon learn he didn't do enough. I was hoping they would re-sign Laken Tomlinson, but the Jets gave him a lot of money. The 49ers simply are not going to pay that much for a guard. So they've placed their bets on Aaron Banks and Spencer Burford being good enough to get by.

I find it hard to believe that Burford could be worse than Daniel Brunskill. And if Mike McGlinchey is healthy, he's an upgrade over Tom Compton. So if Williams is as good as he was last year, if McGlinchey is a better option than Compton, and if Burford is as good as Brunskill, the only two downgrades are left guard and center.

Now, we'll soon find out if that's the case or not. But I don't think Lynch is afraid to upgrade the offensive line. It's just hard to do so when you have a player like Williams making as much as he's making. Not to mention some of the other high-priced 49ers like Deebo Samuel, George Kittle, Fred Warner, Arik Armstead and Charvarius Ward. And remember, next offseason Nick Bosa will likely top them all.

Thanks so much for all your questions. We'll open the mailbag next Monday, and each Monday for the season.

  • Marc Adams
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    Marc Adams

    Public Speaker. Writer. Covering the San Francisco 49ers

    All articles by Marc Adams

The opinions within this article are those of the writer and, while just as important, are not necessarily those of the site as a whole.

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