Where do things stand between 49ers, Jimmy Garoppolo? It’s complicated

Jimmy Garoppolo and the San Francisco 49ers have reached a pivotal point in their relationship: amicable, pending divorce territory. It’s a polite, unresolved, and incremental breakup in the making.

Jimmy Garoppolo granted permission to seek a trade

Garoppolo’s agents were granted permission to pursue trade opportunities a while ago, according to league sources not authorized to speak publicly. That wasn’t a new development between the NFC West franchise and Garoppolo, but that status became public Thursday.

No trade is imminent, per league sources, for the last significant available quarterback that hasn’t been traded following an offseason of seismic changes at the quarterback position with Deshaun Watson, Matt Ryan, Carson Wentz, and Baker Mayfield all landing with new teams.

There are multiple reasons why this simmering and uncontroversial situation is complicated and still at a crossroads of sorts. The 49ers have transitioned from Garoppolo to former North Dakota State standout and 2021 first-round draft pick Trey Lance as their starting quarterback.

Garoppolo underwent offseason surgery on his throwing shoulder, and he was recently cleared to participate in practice heading into training camp, per sources. The 49ers are expected to ramp up his activity level as they will exercise caution with their former starter. That protects Garoppolo’s health, of course, and their investment in him.

Any interested NFL team will want to know that Garoppolo is fully healthy. His shoulder is not expected to be an issue going forward as his rehabilitation has gone smoothly with no setbacks, per sources. Garoppolo was injured during an NFC Divisional Round playoff victory over the Dallas Cowboys.

And here is what’s also important — Garoppolo, 30, no longer has 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. And some league executives said Wednesday that they expect many teams to wait and see if the 49ers decide to ultimately cut Garoppolo if an adequate deal can’t be worked out.

49ers coach Kyle Shanahan has previously acknowledged that Garoppolo could be traded, adding that the team won’t simply give him away. There are viable scenarios where Jimmy G could potentially stay with the 49ers, but he would be an expensive insurance policy if Lance gets hurt or struggles.

If this happens, the 49ers could look to lower his compensation and try to make it commensurate with his status as a top backup. If Garoppolo is out, Nate Sudfeld is the backup to Lance.

Browns and Seahawks are potential landing spots for Garoppolo

Two teams that make the most logical sense for Garoppolo as potential landing spots: the Cleveland Browns and the Seattle Seahawks.

The Browns have previously evaluated Garoppolo, per sources, and are in the market for a backup to Jacoby Brissett if three-time Pro Bowl quarterback Deshaun Watson is suspended for the entire/majority of the season with his status still being contemplated by disciplinary officer Sue L. Robinson. A decision isn’t expected to happen until roughly July 24 or 25, according to sources.

The Browns have $48 million in salary cap space available, so they can absorb Garoppolo’s contract. He would be a strong fit in coach Kevin Stefanski’s run-centric offense built around Nick Chubb and Kareem Hunt.

The Seahawks could definitely use Garoppolo’s skills and familiarity with the division. It’s hard to see the 49ers trading Garoppolo, whom they have a ton of respect for, to an NFC West rival. Still, Garoppolo is arguably a significant upgrade to Geno Smith and Drew Lock, who are competing for the starting job.

The Seahawks would have to make it worthwhile and sweeten a trade, sources believe, for a deal to happen.

Seahawks head coach Pete Carroll is in a win-now mode, and sources believe he would be tempted to pursue Garoppolo, especially if he’s not pleased with Smith and Lock during training camp.

So, where does all of this leave Garoppolo and the 49ers? They’re inching closer toward resolving this high-profile impasse in an amicable, professional manner.

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