What the Garoppolo trade says about Shanahan, 49ers

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Kyle Shanahan’s 49ers rebuild was in Year Zero — a proto-rebuild year, where he could survey the state of the team and determine firsthand where he should start the painful process of rebuilding.

But the rebuild entered Year One on Monday, when Shanahan made the boldest move of his tenure in charge of the 49ers, trading for New England Patriots quarterback and Tom Brady understudy Jimmy Garoppolo, a player the 49ers brass clearly feels can be a franchise cornerstone as the team efforts to return to respectability.

There’s a lot to dissect with this move, but here are the four big things it told us about this still-new 49ers’ administration:

1. This Niners’ front office is judicious, but not conservative

49ers head coach Kyle Shanahan, left, watches practice with general manager John Lynch during training camp Friday, July 28, 2017, in Santa Clara, Calif. (AP Photo/Marcio Jose Sanchez) 

On Monday, the Niners traded away what will in all likelihood be a top 36 pick in the upcoming NFL Draft.

And while the Patriots will almost assuredly trade that pick away for more picks in April, that’s still a significant price to pay for a player like Garoppolo, who hasn’t proven that he’s a quarterback worthy of being declared a “franchise” player.

But he hasn’t proven that he’s not a franchise-caliber quarterback either, and the 49ers are more than willing to risk a second-round pick for the opportunity to find out if he is the real deal (they have a theory — more on that later) firsthand.

If he is the real deal — if he is the quarterback who can lead a 49ers turnaround — giving up a second-round pick to land him will look like a pittance in a year or two.

If it doesn’t, well, you have to pay to play in this game, and the Niners will still have a high first-round pick and a ton of money to spend in the offseason. [Not to mention a second-round pick, via the Saints, and a third-round compensatory pick, should the Niners not re-sign Garoppolo (who is a pending free agent) before he can hit the open market.]

I’ve had a ton of people reach out to me on social media and email (still waiting for my mail to be delivered) saying that a second-round pick was too much to give up.

I couldn’t disagree more. We’re dealing the quarterback position, here. Teams give up multiple firsts and seconds to trade up to the first round to select unproven rookies at the position.

If you don’t have a franchise quarterback, you better have an elite defense — otherwise, you’re going to be a losing team.



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