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Jimmy Garoppolo, 49ers finalizing restructured contract to keep QB in San Francisco

In a surprising twist, Jimmy Garoppolo's time in San Francisco is not over, and he will remain with the 49ers as an experienced backup to Trey Lance.

NFL Network Insiders Ian Rapoport and Mike Garafolo reported Monday that the 49ers and Garoppolo are finalizing a new contract that will make him the highest-paid backup quarterback in the NFL. Garoppolo's new deal is worth $6.5 million fully guaranteed with incentives that can push it to close to $16 million, Rapoport and Garafolo added. The reworked deal also will lower Garoppolo's 2022 salary-cap number from $26.95 million to around $8.5 million.

NFL Network Insider Tom Pelissero reported that Garoppolo's contract also includes a no-trade clause and a no-franchise tag clause. Thus, the QB controls where he goes and will be a free agent after this season.

Monday's new development arrives after a prolonged waiting period in which the veteran quarterback underwent shoulder surgery and spent all of training camp on the 49ers' roster rehabbing.

San Francisco traded up to No. 3 overall in the 2021 draft to select Lance, sitting him behind Garoppolo for most of the rookie's first season before officially handing the keys to the franchise over to the youngster.

Garoppolo knew of the 49ers' succession plan and bid farewell to San Francisco following the 49ers' heartbreaking loss to the Los Angeles Rams in the NFC Championship Game, but his shoulder procedure complicated matters. As the quarterback carousel turned in many NFL cities, Garoppolo could only watch from afar while recovering, and San Francisco ultimately could not find a proper deal to move him elsewhere via trade.

While most everyone expected San Francisco to either trade or release the veteran quarterback, the 49ers are instead content with keeping the trusted veteran who once led San Francisco to a Super Bowl as a possible insurance policy for Lance, the second-year quarterback who enters 2022 with plenty to prove.

Garoppolo arrived in San Francisco, a team that was in desperate need for a franchise QB, via trade with the New England Patriots in the middle of the 2017 season. He stepped into the role and played well enough to draw a five-year contract worth $137.5 million, establishing himself as the face of the club's future under center.

Jimmy G thrived when healthy, posting a win-loss record of 31-14 as San Francisco's starting quarterback, including a 13-3 season in 2019 that saw the 49ers reach Super Bowl LIV. It was that game, though, that revealed his ceiling as San Francisco's quarterback, as the 49ers could not hold onto their lead over the Kansas City Chiefs in the fourth quarter, losing 31-20. One key play -- an overthrown pass to an open Emmanuel Sanders on third and 10 -- typified Garoppolo's tenure with the team, but didn't prompt the 49ers to find his replacement.

Garoppolo's inability to stay healthy ultimately led to his demotion in San Francisco. After playing in all 16 games in 2019, Garoppolo appeared in just six contests due to injury in 2020, undercutting San Francisco's hopes of repeating as NFC champions and forcing 49ers management to find another option in case of emergency. That option arrived with the selection of Lance, a player San Francisco believes has the potential to get the 49ers over the hump and above all, keep the team competitive simply by being available more often than Garoppolo.

The 30-year-old, meanwhile, can continue his shoulder rehab and prepare for a season spent as the next man up, but only when needed. Garoppolo still has plenty of football ahead of him, provided he can avoid the injury bug that has too often interrupted his career. Instead of potentially finding a new opportunity elsewhere, he'll spend 2022 with the team he knows best – he'll just do so in a backup role.

Garoppolo can chase such a new opportunity after the 2022 season, and if we've learned anything from the last two offseasons, there will be jobs available. The biggest question mark remaining will be whether Garoppolo can stay healthy enough to justify a new team's pursuit of him, and no one will know for certain until he completes a season without incident. That time won't come until after 2022, though – or until a team becomes desperate enough to call the 49ers to inquire about Garoppolo.

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