For an oft-utilized phrase, the words “a business decision” never quite grow stale. Depending on the individual or collective wisdom of the decision-maker, it rarely loses its overriding importance.
In the case of the San Francisco 49ers, they’re making smart calls on two high-profile situations.
The 49ers organization, guided by head coach Kyle Shanahan, general manager John Lynch, and executive vice president of football operations Paraag Marathe, are doing everything they can to strike a delicate balance with wide receiver Deebo Samuel and quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo.
Keeping Deebo Samuel, Jimmy Garoppolo off the field is a smart move by San Francisco 49ers
By not requiring Samuel or Garoppolo to practice, the 49ers don’t aggravate either player or their representatives. In essence, it works like a partnership. And that kind of cooperation and good relationship can lead to positive outcomes.
A “hold-in” isn’t necessarily a hostile action. And it’s going on elsewhere around the league. Los Angeles Chargers star safety Derwin James isn’t practicing while contract talks unfold between the team and his agent, David Mulugheta. It’s suspected that’s what is going on between the Chicago Bears and star linebacker Roquan Smith. A similar scenario is believed to be unfolding with the Seattle Seahawks and wide receiver DK Metcalf as he is at practice but not participating in drills.
The 49ers want to trade Garoppolo as soon as they can. They’ve moved on to Trey Lance as their new starting quarterback.
They share a mutual goal with Samuel as they’re negotiating a potentially huge contract extension. League sources emphasized that they expect this deal to ultimately get done and Samuel to cash in with a big-money extension that pays him among the NFL’s top wide receivers.
As Samuel works on his conditioning on the side instead of catching passes with his teammates in drills, he does so with the expressed approval of Shanahan.
“We all know there’s a lot going on with Deebo right now,” Shanahan said this week. “We’ll see what happens. I just had a great conversation with Deebo, so regardless of what happens, he’s going to go out there and condition on the side. We’ll see where he’s at. Hopefully, we can figure something out soon. But we’re in a good place for today.”
At the start of training camp, Lynch expressed optimism that a deal would get hammered out, possibly soon. The trade request from Samuel earlier this offseason feels like ancient history. Talks are going well between the 49ers and agent Tory Dandy of Creative Artists Agency, who also represents Metcalf and Philadelphia Eagles wide receiver A.J. Brown.
“We’re focused on getting something done,” Lynch said. “Deadlines — and there’s not a hard deadline — but deadlines have a way of spurring these things into action. And that’s like I said, we’ve had a number of productive talks.”
Different situation for Garoppolo, as trade could be in the offing
The 49ers cleared a significant hurdle when Garoppolo passed his physical after undergoing surgery on his right throwing shoulder earlier this offseason.
San Francisco isn’t forcing Garoppolo to practice as they try to figure out a way to get something solid in exchange for him in a trade, which represents a challenge.
In the meantime, Garoppolo doesn’t have to go to practices or meetings. Basically, he’s on the team, but it’s almost over.
“We’re saying, ‘Go ahead, you don’t have to be here,'” Shanahan said. “Anything he wants to be at, he can. But I think Jimmy, John, and I talked for a while. We understand every part of this situation, and I think both sides know what each side is doing as good as we can. I’ll stay in communication with Jimmy. We’ll keep doing that and take it one day at a time.”
Lynch said that Garoppolo hasn’t asked to be cut. Eventually, though, it might come to that being a necessity. It doesn’t sound like the 49ers are just going to cut him at this point. They want something back in return.
“Can’t just give one of the better quarterbacks in the league just to make him available for no reason to the whole world,” Shanahan said.
Garoppolo granted permission to seek a trade in March
Garoppolo’s agents were previously granted permission to pursue trade opportunities in March, according to league sources not authorized to speak publicly.
Despite that amount of time, no trade is imminent or developing, per sources, because there are only a few places where he makes sense, including the Seahawks.
However, the Seahawks are a division rival, and they’re still evaluating the merits of going with Geno Smith or Drew Lock. The Cleveland Browns are not expected to pursue Garoppolo after evaluating him earlier this offseason. They’re expected to go with Jacoby Brissett as their starter if the NFL suspends Deshaun Watson under its personal conduct policy.
Although the Atlanta Falcons have Marcus Mariota and Desmond Ridder as their top two quarterbacks, it’s debatable whether Garoppolo represents a significant enough upgrade. It’s a similar takeaway with the New York Giants and Daniel Jones.
Garoppolo doesn’t have a no-trade clause in his contract, as he did last year. He is due a non-guaranteed $24.2 million salary in the final year of his contract.
It’s considered likely that any new NFL employer will want to adjust Garoppolo’s contract. They could even ask the 49ers to pay a portion of his salary to facilitate a potential trade.