The question hovering over an injury-riddled season in San Francisco is the future at quarterback beyond 2020.
The 49ers can get out of Jimmy Garoppolo's contract with ease this offseason, or they can ride the signal-caller who got them within a quarter of hoisting a Lombardi Trophy for another year.
During a Friday interview with KNBR, GM John Lynch tight-roped the fine line, supporting Garoppolo while not point-blank saying the injured quarterback would be back in 2021.
"I think the elephant in the room: Everyone wants to know about Jimmy," Lynch said, via the San Francisco Chronicle. "Here's what I know about Jimmy Garoppolo, and I think I've been consistent: We're a better football team when he's out there. We win a lot of games when he's out there. We've struggled to win without him.
"So, people can try to pick his game apart. And I do believe this year Jimmy hasn't played up to his standard. I think a lot of that is he's been somewhat compromised by his health ... We have a lot of belief in Jimmy."
Garoppolo missed two games due to injury early in the year and was sat down midway through two others due to poor play caused by ankle issues.
Lynch said Jimmy G, who is currently on IR with his second high-ankle sprain, didn't need surgery "right now." It's unclear if Garoppolo will play again this season, especially if the 49ers are out of contention by the time he's healthy enough to return.
"We're going to leave it alone, we're going to give it some time to kind of settle down, and then start to ramp him back up," Lynch said. "At that point, if it's not good, then you might have to go do it. But for right now, the good news is no surgery necessary, and I know Jimmy was excited about that, as were we."
Garoppolo's sub-par play this season -- whether caused by injury or not -- could lead the 49ers to move on from the quarterback after the season and pursue a potential replacement.
Speculation surged as it was reported that vice president of player personnel Adam Peters attended the BYU-Boise State game on Oct. 19. BYU quarterback Zach Wilson is projected to be a first-round pick this spring. Lynch confirmed Peters was at the game.
"We're scouting hundreds and hundreds and hundreds of players each year," Lynch said on KNBR. "And we try to be as thorough as possible. Adam did go out ... to watch a Boise State-BYU game. That seemed to have garnered a lot of attention. We're doing our jobs. You prepare for everything. ... We're always going to be thorough. We're always going to work our tail off to scout all the players and be prepared for anything."
For now, Lynch and the 49ers are in Jimmy G's corner. The GM will likely continue to say he has faith, confidence, or one of many other positive synonyms about Garoppolo through the end of this season. How the Niners really feel about the veteran quarterback will be told come March and free agency.