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Jimmy Garoppolo still in line for 49ers' franchise tag?

If you have any questions about what a difference a franchise quarterback makes, simply turn on a San Francisco 49ers game from the last two weeks.

Jimmy Garoppolo propelled the previously one-win team to two straight victories. The offense is humming, with Garoppolo tossing for more yards in his first two starts than any quarterback in the Niners' storied history. Every aspect of the team has improved, from the blockers, to pass catchers. Heck, even the defense is flying around with more passion the past two weeks.

Despite the wave of positivity, nothing has changed how coach Kyle Shanahan views Garoppolo's contract situation. With Jimmy G heading towards free agency, the 49ers will hold the franchise tag trump card if needed.

"For me personally, it doesn't impact anything," Shanahan said of Garoppolo's play, via Matt Maiocco of NBC Bay Area. "I thought it was so neat about the situation that I didn't feel that, because of that [franchise] option, that we had to see something here or there, and we had to do all this stuff.

"It's been able for us to just try to do things the right way, put him in when we thought he was ready to, not put any pressure on him where he has to do all this to show something. Obviously, we're very encouraged with how these two games have been."

With the franchise tag to fall back upon, the Niners and Garoppolo are in no hurry to strike a deal.

"Yeah, I would not be anticipating that," Shanahan said of a long-term deal before the end of the season.

You could anticipate the price tag going up each week.

In his first two starts -- both on the road -- Garoppolo threw for 293 yards and 334 yards, respectively. The quarterback's heady pocket movement has hidden some O-line struggles. His pristine ball placement has turned third-fiddle wideouts into legitimate threats. Consider this: in two weeks with Jimmy G, Marquise Goodwin has 14 receptions for 205 yards, more catches than the former one-trick pony had earned than during any four-game stretch of his career.

Given the confluence of the impeccable start and small sample size, Jimmy G playing on the franchise tag for one season would not come as a shock. Avoiding a costly Kirk Cousins pay-as-you-go plan, however, should be the goal for the team.

Before Garoppolo makes his first career home start in Santa Clara on Sunday against Tennessee, the Niners can be confident they unearthed their franchise quarterback of the future. They'll worry about paying him like one down the road.

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