The San Francisco 49ers traded all the way up from 12th to third overall in the 2021 NFL Draft, and general manager John Lynch confirmed Friday that he will draft a quarterback with that high pick.

Somewhat surprisingly, Lynch also said that incumbent signal-caller Jimmy Garoppolo is “ still in our plans” per NFL Network’s Steve Wyche but that he’d listen to trade offers for the oft-injured veteran.

Wow, that’s a lot to unpack. Let’s break it down.

John Lynch wants QB to groom under Jimmy Garoppolo in ideal scenario

As can be seen in the video above, Wyche explains that the first thing Lynch did was call Garoppolo once Friday’s blockbuster trade with the Miami Dolphins was completed. Lynch wanted to clarify that Garoppolo was in their plans.

When Wyche broached the topic of a trade involving Jimmy G on draft night, Lynch conceded he’d have to take those calls and that teams have been “circling” around Garoppolo.

If San Francisco can somehow convince Garoppolo to buy in to being essentially a bridge starter for someone to then take his job in 2022, more power to the organization. That’s a heck of an operation.

Then again, maybe the 49ers and Garoppolo won’t have a choice if a trade or release isn’t executed soon enough.

Prospects like Justin Fields and Trey Lance come to mind as deserving of being top-three picks but may need a season to sit on the bench and learn from a veteran.

By the way, there’s no shame in that. Patrick Mahomes did that in Kansas City behind Alex Smith, and look how well that turned out for the Chiefs. Kyle Shanahan is the Niners head coach and is in charge of an extremely complex offense that’s highly esteemed for being QB-friendly yet is incredibly complex to learn.

How Garoppolo takes Friday’s news may well determine how Lynch proceeds to fill out his quarterback depth chart. If Garoppolo wants out, maybe a more pro-ready QB like Mac Jones is the pick. However, chances are the 49ers love either Fields or Lance and will have a mentor in place for them whether it’s Garoppolo or not.

Lynch must know Garoppolo trade market will be limited

Considering that the 49ers could save $23.6 million in salary cap space by either trading or releasing Garoppolo, and they just mortgaged some of their future to land his eventual successor, who’s going to sacrifice a premium asset to land Jimmy G — especially after he started only three games in 2018 and six last season due to injury?

There aren’t bound to be many suitors for Garoppolo given the obvious lack of faith San Francisco has in him. That is except for the New England Patriots, who drafted Garoppolo initially to be the replacement for Tom Brady before trading him to the 49ers as Tom Terrific defied Father Time.

Since New England spent so much cash in free agency, it’s conceivable head coach Bill Belichick won’t be as beholden to draft picks as he has been in the past. A king of trading down on draft day and building for the future, Belichick’s aggressive free agency suggests he’s ready to get the Patriots back on the map now.

New England is easily the most logical place for Garoppolo to land, whether it’s through a trade or the Pats acquire him after his eventual release. Don’t rule out Garoppolo requesting to be cut, too. By going that route, he can get a fresh start elsewhere and assurances that the franchise views him as the long-term answer under center.

Pros and cons of Lynch’s defining moment as 49ers GM

There’s no question the 49er faithful will be ecstatic at least for now about the prospect of landing another historic QB to hopefully lead the franchise into a thriving new era for the next decade or so. There’s a lot of goodwill Lynch will carry around.

Giving up two future first-round picks, though, is a big drawback. Additionally, on Garoppolo’s side of things, could anyone blame him for being alienated by this move? After all, when he started all 16 games back in 2019, the Niners went 13-3 and were a quarter away from a Super Bowl victory.

What if Garoppolo goes somewhere else, proves the injury history that’s plagued his rather brief career was a fluke and proceeds to thrive? He’s only turning 30 in November, has plenty of football in front of him and was on a team-friendly contract in San Francisco.

Alas, that’s not the way the modern NFL is trending. There’s no time to wait. Lynch knew he had to get more dynamic at QB in an NFC West division that features dual-threat dynamos in Seattle’s Russell Wilson and Arizona’s Kyler Murray. The Los Angeles Rams made a huge trade of their own to upgrade with the cannon-armed Matthew Stafford over Jared Goff.

Some might call this draft maneuver by Lynch a reactionary transaction with all that context as the backdrop. Garoppolo’s future is totally up in the air, and there’s no indication he was privy to knowing this huge 49ers trade was going down.

Regardless of what happens, all eyes will be on San Francisco on draft night, and if Lynch and Shanahan come together, make the right pick and find the next star QB, all the drama will have been worth it.

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