As the San Francisco 49ers consider the future with Jimmy Garoppolo, these three potentially available quarterbacks would be an upgrade.
In three full seasons as the San Francisco 49ers’ starter, Jimmy Garoppolo has played more than six games once. That one season yielded a trip to the Super Bowl, but even with that “Jimmy G” looks entirely replaceable.
Head coach Kyle Shanahan’s system has coaxed passable quarterback play out of Nick Mullens for stretches during Garoppolo’s absences in two of the last three seasons. So it may not matter all the much who is under center, with high-level play design and a run-oriented system in place, but Garoppolo’s ceiling is limited and thus so is the team’s ceiling as long as he’s the quarterback.
At risk of sounding like a broken record, the 49ers can clear nearly $24 million in cap space with a dead money hit of less than $3 million by cutting or trading Garoppolo this offseason. There are some possible trade suitors out there (the New England Patriots lead any list), so the 49ers can surely get something for him if they want to go another direction.
That’s not to say replacing Garoppolo won’t possibly be complicated, with cap space and overall fit in mind. But these three quarterbacks who could be available are definitely better than Garoppolo.
3 quarterbacks better than Garoppolo the 49ers could target
3. Matt Ryan
The Falcons have a new GM and a new head coach, and they also have serious salary cap concerns. Trading Ryan before June 1 would leave behind big dead money for Atlanta ($44.4 million), but the transaction being made official on June 2 changes the numbers ($17.9 million in dead money, $23 million in cleared cap space).
Shanahan was Atlanta’s offensive coordinator in 2015 and 2016. In 2016, Ryan won league MVP with career-best numbers across the board.
The Falcons trading Ryan this offseason, to the 49ers or anyone else, falls into the “never say never” category. But he has run Shanahan’s offense at a high level, and some level of pursuit from San Francisco’s end shouldn’t be ruled out.