Seahawks and Jimmy Garoppolo? It's possible
The 49ers have completely flunked the Jimmy G experiment and as hard as this may be to hear, Seattle could wait out his release and sign him for cheap
Have the Seattle Seahawks ever added a player or coach to the team who you didn’t want them to add? Of course.
Since I started covering the team, names like Tom Cable, Frank Clark, and Malik McDowell drew ire from the very beginning. And grumbles rang loudly over running back draft picks like Rashaad Penny and Christine Michael, and edge rushers who don’t edge rush like L.J. Collier.
Those are only a handful of names that I can think of but surely if I asked each of you personally to name someone, we could probably create an entire 53-man roster and practice squad.
Hopefully this has somewhat prepared you for what you already know is coming based off of the headline, because my experiences as a writer have prepared me for the fan backlash that will be my consequence for suggesting that Seattle might tab a former San Francisco 49ers quarterback as Pete Carroll’s next starter.
I’m almost never writing what I “want” the Seahawks to do. This is not about wants. This is about observing the NFL landscape and then reporting what is possible, what is plausible, and what is probable.
So far in the last two weeks, that reporting should have been enough to get visions of Deshaun Watson, Matt Ryan, and Marcus Mariota out of your heads. If you stick with it moving forward, perhaps we can also get past Baker Mayfield, Malik Willis, and Colin Kaepernick together too.
Instead I want to continue steering Seaside Joe readers towards the quarterback options who are far less interesting, less exciting, less expensive, more disposable, and completely underwhelming. Essentially: Stop thinking about what your fantasy team might want and start thinking about what Pete Carroll wants.
I quit playing fantasy football about 10 years ago and lately I’ve pondered to what degree this obsessive activity has served as a catalyst towards very smart NFL writers suggesting horrible scheme and philosophy fits between players and teams.
To suggest that the Seahawks would be looking for a quarterback anything like Matt Ryan—from age to price to scheme fit to simply doing a major disservice to Ryan at 37 behind Seattle’s run-first offensive line—is not what I expected from Twitter but it is what we got. And I don’t want to come down on you for wanting someone like Matt Ryan either because Matt Ryan is Matt Ryan. He’s a borderline Hall of Fame quarterback and who knows, maybe the Atlanta Falcons really were holding him back and he emerges from the cocoon with the Colts next season to win the Super Bowl.
But connecting him to the Seahawks is a fantasy trade, not an NFL trade.
Unfortunately, and I do mean unfortunately, Jimmy Garoppolo to the Seahawks is SO SENSIBLE that Carroll may in fact be cooling on all these other options to compete with Drew Lock because he’s waiting for the 49ers to release Jimmy Garoppolo.
As Matt Maiocco wrote on Tuesday morning for NBC Sports Bay Area, it is looking more and more likely that as the starting quarterback jobs dry up, the 49ers will eventually release Garoppolo and get nothing in return for a player who has started in two of the last three NFC Championships.
Under his current contract, it does not make much sense to retain Garoppolo. The strong argument can be made that Garoppolo means more to the composition of the roster -- this season and into the future -- by not being on the team. If a trade is impossible, it makes more sense to release him after he passes a physical and all trade options are exhausted. That way, his non-guaranteed $25 million can be redirected to other foundational players, such as Deebo Samuel and Nick Bosa, and the rising salaries in future seasons for such players as George Kittle, Trent Williams, Fred Warner and Arik Armstead.
The Seahawks will never make the same mistake that John Lynch made in 2017 and trade for Jimmy Garoppolo. Besides the growing probability that they don’t have to, Seattle also can’t afford it. As John Gilbert of Field Gulls pointed out on Tuesday morning, the Seahawks actual remaining cap space is roughly $11 million—$14 million short of what a team would need to pay Garoppolo on his current deal.
As Maiocco noted, there could not possibly be many, if any, teams still in the running to trade for Garoppolo. Once touted as being worth “more than a first round pick” based on San Francisco’s run to the NFC Championship—which, like their Super Bowl run in 2019, was in spite of Garoppolo way more than it was because of Garoppolo—the reality is that the 49ers QB was so far down the list of priorities for teams that his name hasn’t come up one time during THE MOST FURIOUS QB CAROUSEL IN HISTORY.
Even Case Keenum got traded and re-signed before Jimmy Garoppolo did.
Lynch couldn’t even get a sniff on Garoppolo, despite Lynch and Kyle Shanahan touting him as some “great player who can’t get healthy” for an unbelievable amount of time: almost five seasons worth. I’ve stood alone on many a-hill and that includes criticizing San Francisco’s trade for Garoppolo, their massive extension for Garoppolo, and their continued commitment to Garoppolo after reaching the Super Bowl and seeing that he was never going to finish the job.
But does Jimmy Garoppolo make sense as a Carroll target if he’s a free agent who costs less than $11 million next season? Absolutely.
Because Seattle’s number one priority with finding a starting quarterback for 2022 must be that the player knows how to play “game manager” to a run-first offense; Garoppolo the game manager was at his career-best in 2019, when the 49ers ranked 29th in pass attempts and second in rushing attempts. It’s as close to a mirror of the Russell Wilson and Marshawn Lynch-led Seahawks offenses of the 2012-2014 era as a recent team gets.
After missing all but six games in 2020, Garoppolo returned to play the part of Golden Gate bridge quarterback last season. The 49ers again ranked 29th in pass attempts, and fifth in rushing attempts. Which is such a rudimentary way for me to break down an offense, so here are some breakdowns around the internet:
Kaelen Jones at The Ringer in 2021:
Shanahan’s offense is renowned for scheming open middle-of-the-field receivers, often on crossing routes that allow targets to pick up yards after the catch. This has been Garoppolo’s calling card and a key reason he’s on pace to lead the league in YAC per completion (6.5) for the second time in three seasons (2019).
Conor Orr at SI in August, 2021:
After Kyle Shanahan’s offense propelled the Falcons to Super Bowl LI, he became the head coach of the 49ers, reaching the Super Bowl again three seasons later. In that time, the repopularization of the outside zone running scheme, initially made famous by the late offensive line wizard Alex Gibbs and Kyle’s father, Mike Shanahan, was catching on due to its effectiveness against smaller, quicker defenses and the way it made life simpler for developing quarterbacks.
Kyle, Rams coach Sean McVay and Packers coach Matt LaFleur were all on Mike’s staff together in Washington back in the early 2010s, when they’d sit together after practice and watch plays millisecond by millisecond, noting the intricacies of the scheme, what made it successful and how it could expand into the juggernaut it’s now become. They could breathe it in fully. They knew how to manipulate its outer reaches. They knew how to make it more potent than it ever was before. This, at a time when other general managers around the league were feverishly drafting defensive backs to counter the passing revolution, leaving them susceptible to a thumping run game.
Of course, Sean McVay played mentor to Shane Waldron, now the offensive coordinator of the Seahawks. Pete Carroll and Mike Shanahan were ships passing in the night with the mid-90s 49ers. The late Alex Gibbs was one of Carroll’s very first hires in Seattle, albeit a short-lived one as he retired shortly thereafter.
From Sam Gold at Field Gulls in February, 2021:
My main takeaway from the film was that there will be a shift from primarily using shotgun inside zone to running single back outside zone under Waldron. While this change may seem drastic considering that the Seahawks have used a decent number of trap and man-blocking assignments with their offensive line, they are already running many of the plays that Waldron ran in Los Angeles. Not only are they running them, but they are actually running them well.
The Seahawks’ next quarterback will be a player who can hand the ball to Rashaad Penny and deliver quick, intermediate passes to DK Metcalf, Tyler Lockett, Will Dissly, and Dee Eskridge, etc.
Quite literally all Garoppolo does is deliver quick, intermediate passes. Just the names and faces would change in Seattle.
On the surface, it might look like the Seahawks have passed up every available quarterback opportunity that has emerged over the last two weeks. In reality, same as they did during a month of secret trade negotiations with the Denver Broncos over a Russell Wilson trade, Pete Carroll and John Schneider have poured over the details of EVERY available quarterback and that definitely includes Garoppolo. They might have even made their decision on Garoppolo already and it could be this:
“Not worth trading for, but if he becomes a free agent, we go make the push to give Garoppolo a chance for “revenge” against San Francisco’s decision to part with him after trading three first round picks to move up for Trey Lance.”
He won’t wow you, excited you, please you, elevate the offense, or satisfy your desire to see the Seahawks replace a great quarterback with another great quarterback. All the more reason to believe he could be Pete’s number one target, if and when the 49ers release him.
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Not against it for 1 year. Jimmy G is not very good, but he's not terrible and seems like a great team player. Also, 2021 Wilson didn't look that much better than him...
It would be worth it for Jimmy G to beat the 9ers twice a year, again.