San Francisco 49ers commit to Trey Lance as starting QB, hope to move Jimmy Garoppolo ‘as soon as we can’

SANTA CLARA, Calif. — Lest there be any remaining doubt about who is the San Francisco 49ers starting quarterback, coach Kyle Shanahan made it abundantly clear on Tuesday: Trey Lance‘s time has arrived and Jimmy Garoppolo is still expected to land elsewhere.

“We have moved on to Trey,” Shanahan said. “This is Trey’s team. That’s nothing against Jimmy. We made that decision a year ago and we’re going with that. We’re not going to mess around with that anymore. Jimmy understands that fully. That’s a business decision and that’s what makes it not awkward. Jimmy knows we’re going with Trey. Trey knows we’re going with Trey and our team does and everyone likes both of those guys.”

Much of the 49ers-related discussion this offseason centered on Garoppolo and receiver Deebo Samuel, who requested a trade in April. Both players reported for the start of 49ers training camp Tuesday but appear headed in opposite directions, with Garoppolo expected to depart and Samuel poised to receive a lucrative long-term contract.

While none of the lingering offseason drama associated with Garoppolo or Samuel has fully settled yet, that time appears to be coming soon.

Garoppolo sat down with Shanahan and general manager John Lynch on Tuesday morning as the trio caught up and discussed what is expected to happen next. Garoppolo is still recovering from the right shoulder surgery he had in March, and though he has resumed throwing and has been cleared to practice, he won’t be participating in those sessions when the Niners begin Wednesday morning.

Garoppolo was slated for a physical on Tuesday afternoon and then is expected to continue the throwing program prescribed for him as he continues to work his shoulder back into shape.

As Garoppolo works his way back, the 49ers will also continue to seek a trade partner. The team believes a deal already would have happened had Garoppolo not required offseason surgery. Since it did, however, the Niners and Garoppolo have remained in a holding pattern.

Tuesday’s sit-down was the first conversation Garoppolo, Lynch and Shanahan have had since Garoppolo departed for the offseason in February. Garoppolo was excused from participating in the offseason program and had not so much as met new quarterbacks coach Brian Griese as recently as June.

“We spoke when he left and we had a pretty good understanding of what was going on and because of the surgery and the ramifications of that in other teams’ eyes, nothing has transpired as of yet,” Lynch said. “But he’s here, he’s reported, we’ll see what happens in the physical and we’ll move forward accordingly.”

Should Garoppolo get clearance from that physical, the Niners would then be free of the $7.5 million injury guarantee that came into play after Garoppolo had his surgery. Trading or releasing Garoppolo would save the team his scheduled $24.2 million base salary for 2022 with only $1.4 million in dead money remaining from his prorated signing bonus.

The 49ers and Garoppolo’s representatives have been working together throughout the offseason to find him a new home, an important point since any acquiring team would likely want to negotiate a new contract that isn’t as expensive as the remaining year on his deal but would also include some guaranteed money for Garoppolo, who doesn’t have any guarantees left on his contract.

The 49ers have remained steadfast that they don’t want to release Garoppolo and thus far Garoppolo has not requested his release, though there aren’t many teams in need of a quarterback at the moment.

“As soon as we can,” Shanahan said of when he’d like to move Garoppolo. “Hopefully with everyone being on the same page, hopefully that will happen sooner than later. I think that would be good for him and for us.”

While Garoppolo is still almost certainly on his way out, Lynch and the Niners are increasingly optimistic that Samuel will be around for the long haul. Despite Samuel’s earlier trade request, the Niners held firm that they wanted to sign him to an extension.

That patience seemed to pay off when Samuel attended the team’s mandatory minicamp and again when he reported for camp on Tuesday. While it’s unclear if Samuel will participate in practice until a new deal is done, Lynch said the focus is on getting it finished so that doesn’t become a factor.

“We’ve had really productive and substantive talks,” Lynch said. “I don’t want to get everyone all excited that something is imminent because we’re not there yet but really hopeful that in the near future we’ll be able to announce something that is exciting for everyone involved. Deebo is here today and we’re excited about moving forward with him as part of this team.”

While Samuel’s payday appears to be coming soon, the Niners and defensive end Nick Bosa appear content to wait a bit before making progress on what will be another massive contract.

In the spring, both the Niners and Bosa didn’t seem to be in a hurry to get a deal done after the Niners exercised the fifth-year option that keeps Bosa under team control through the 2023 season.

That was a hint that a deal might not be a priority for either side, and though Lynch won’t rule out something happening earlier, he said Tuesday that such a pact is more likely to come in 2023.

“If you look at our history, our cadence, most of our deals are done with one year left on the contract,” Lynch said. “Nick’s got two years left and so that doesn’t make it impossible. But it makes it more likely that it’s something that will be addressed next year. No absolutes. Never say never but here’s what I do know as long as we’re here, Nick Bosa is gonna be a part of the Niners and he’s gonna get paid handsomely to do so. His time is coming and when it does, he’ll get what he deserves because what a special player.”

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