Who the San Francisco 49ers plan to select at No. 3 overall remains a mystery hours before the 2021 NFL Draft kicks off.
What's not in question is what the pick will mean for Jimmy Garoppolo's long-term future.
The Niners traded three first-round picks to leap into the third position to select their QB of the future, meaning Jimmy G isn't long for the Bay Area. The questions heading into draft night are if San Francisco could trade the QB before, during or after the draft -- unless it hangs onto him through the rookie's first season.
NFL Network Insider Ian Rapoport reported Thursday morning that the Niners do not have plans to trade Jimmy G unless the value overwhelms them, per sources informed of the situation.
Of course, plans are often made to be changed.
NFL Network's Tom Pelissero reported Thursday on Good Morning Football that several teams will inquire about a trade for the QB who helped get the Niners to a Super Bowl two seasons ago, but nothing is in motion yet.
"My understanding is, you can anticipate multiple teams to be checking in with the 49ers today about a potential trade for Garoppolo," Pelissero said. "One logical team that's been connected to this for a while now, of course, Garoppolo's original team, the New England Patriots."
The Patriots have long been dot-connected to Jimmy G. Bill Belichick has liked the QB since drafting him in the second round in 2014. With Cam Newton re-signed for just one season on a backup salary, the Pats could view the 29-year-old Garoppolo as more than a stop-gap. That scenario likely depends on whether Belichick lands his franchise signal-caller during the draft, either at No. 15 overall or with a trade up. Several other QB-needy teams could also inquire later in the draft if they strike out on snagging one.
Pelissero added two interesting factors that might make it difficult to swing any trade mid-draft: 1) No talks on restructured contracts elsewhere have been discussed; and 2) Garoppolo owns a rarely discussed no-trade clause, which has the potential to throw a wrench into any situation.
Without discussing potential contract restructures with acquiring teams, it could be difficult for a trade to go down during the fury of the draft.
"You have one big complicating factor here: Garoppolo has a no-trade clause in his contract that just kicked in last month," Pelissero noted. "So, in essence, Garoppolo could scuttle any deal by not agreeing to a restructured contract on the one that is currently due to pay him $25.5 million in 2021."
The expectation from the moment the Niners telegraphed they were out long-term on the oft-injured Garoppolo has been that the quarterback would be amicable to an adjusted contract that would pay him more than he'd make if outright cut. It's also been expected that Garoppolo would agree to said trade with the expectation that he'd have a better chance at playing time with a destination switch.
Kyle Shanahan is hand-picking his new quarterback. That much is clear. Whether it's a game-ready Mac Jones or perhaps Trey Lance, who might need seasoning, would likely determine how long Garoppolo remains in San Francisco.
Earlier this week, the Niners coach went macabre when asked if Jimmy G would be on the team Sunday after the draft.
"I can't guarantee that anybody in the world will be alive Sunday, so I can't guarantee who will be on our roster on Sunday," Shanahan told reporters Monday. "So that goes for all of us."
Stay safe out there, dear reader.
The hope is Sunday, we'll all be alive, and Jimmy G will have a better idea of how his future in San Francisco might shake out.
With the bounty the Niners paid to move up to draft a rookie QB, Garoppolo won't stay in San Francisco on his $25 million contract. Something will be done at some point with that contract, whether a team bowls them over with trade during the draft or not.