Jimmy Garoppolo’s 49ers contract opens up more questions than answers

Quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo was medically cleared to practice the day he reported to training camp in late July.

However, he did not practice.

He did not attend meetings.

He did not receive any updated practice materials.

The 49ers remained hopeful that Garoppolo would be traded at some point this summer after the decision was made to hand the offense to sophomore Trey Lance.

Garoppolo had fallen so far out of mind that he was ranked No. 4 on the 49ers depth chart.

“If he’s on the depth board, it’s because he has to be,” 49ers coach Kyle Shanahan said of Garoppolo on Aug. 9.

Well, the parties decided to continue their union on Monday. Garoppolo took a nearly $18 million pay cut to stay with the 49ers. With the stroke of a pen on his new contract, Garoppolo moved up to No. 2 in the depth charts.

Obviously, he thinks he has a strong chance of regaining his starting status for the team sooner rather than later to settle as an unrestricted free agent at the end of the season.

Garoppolo weighed his options and felt his best chance to step onto the court and succeed was to stay in the Bay Area.

The 49ers gave Garoppolo permission to seek a trade in the spring. He and his representation were able to discuss dollar amounts with all interested teams.

The 49ers didn’t need to release him to trade with other teams. So he knew what he would have been paid if he had been on another team.

The Seattle Seahawks were seen as a possible destination with their pair of unimpressive quarterbacks Geno Smith and Drew Lock. But the Seahawks would likely struggle to win games this season with any quarterback.

The Cleveland Browns might have thought about signing Garoppolo to open the season as Jacoby Brissett’s insurance policy. And while the Browns have a solid roster, any quarterback would be just a placeholder until Deshaun Watson returns from a suspension of at least 11 games for violating league policy on personal conduct.

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It’s been an up and down training camp and pre-season for Lance. He showed big game potential with his arms and legs. He also failed to connect consistently on routine throws.

The 49ers strengthened their position at quarterback on Monday while putting more pressure on Lance to get out and play right away and win games.

If the 49ers lose a few games and Lance struggles, there will most definitely be a move to get Garoppolo back in the starting lineup.

After all, when Garoppolo steps onto the court, the 49ers have won plenty of games since he arrived midway through the 2017 season.

However, the timing of this new contract doesn’t give Garoppolo the best chance to succeed this season.

He hasn’t taken any practice shots with the 49ers this season. He was seen throughout practice throwing to the side with a program designed to rebuild strength in his surgically repaired shoulder.

Now Garoppolo won’t have much training time either. After training camp is over, the starting quarterback picks up all first team reps. The backup is relegated to leading opposition plays as part of the reconnaissance team against the 49ers’ first-team defense.

Yes, the 49ers quarterback’s situation is stronger than it was at the start of the day.

But there might be more questions than ever about Lance and Garoppolo, Garoppolo and Lance.

The 49ers are ready to win now. And Garoppolo’s decision to take a pay cut to stay with the organization is an indication he thinks he’s just the man to do it.

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