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Jimmy Garoppolo (Likely) Now Available, After 49ers Trade Up For No. 3 Overall Pick

By Michael Hurley, CBS Boston

BOSTON (CBS) -- Ladies and gentlemen, we've got some major NFL action.

The 49ers traded up from No. 12 in next month's draft to nab the No. 3 overall pick from Miami, according to ESPN's Adam Schefter. While we're working on assumptions here, it's likely that San Francisco has identified its quarterback of the future. What else could warrant a package of three first-round picks, plus a third-rounder for good measure?

Again, that's an assumption, but, well. It feels safe to assume that Kyle Shanahan and John Lynch have their eyes set on someone. Whether it's Zach Wilson or Justin Fields or Trey Lance is up for debate, but it seems as though the Niners have expressed their intentions quite clearly.

And from a New England perspective, that means one thing and one thing only: Jimmy Garoppolo is available.

Again, that's another assumption, sure. But the 49ers owe him no more guaranteed money, and despite public comments to the contrary, they've acted somewhat lukewarm with regard to still believing in him as their guy. A trade like this one certainly removes a lot of the questions about that relationship.

And so, with the Patriots dedicating a low-dollar contract to Cam Newton, and with Jarrett Stidham seemingly fading out of the picture entirely, we'll all just kind of wait around for the expected to take place.

Bill Belichick, it's time to bring Jimmy G. home.

Of course, of course, of course, a lot has to happen before that.

One potential hurdle is that Schefter reported that the 49ers have no intention of trading Garoppolo.

When nobody believed Schefter, he added some more color to his report.

Still ... nobody believed him.

Sure, a team might be OK with keeping a veteran QB to mentor the top pick and ease his transition to the NFL, and the 49ers have openly expressed a desire to improve their backup situation. But the team likely wouldn't want a $24 million QB to serve in that mentor role.

Likewise, why on earth would Garoppolo want to work like that, knowing his replacement was waiting in the wings to take his job, a la Tua Tagovailoa a year ago in Miami or (slightly different scenario) Justin Herbert in L.A.? Suffice it to say, Don Yee is likely already on the phone with Lynch to sort this one out, and if the Niners have their eyes on a QB, it's time for a polite yet forceful trade demand.

From there, if we assume that a trade is inevitable, we then would have to stack on another assumption that the Patriots would offer the best package to land the QB. If we look around the league at QB-needy teams, it may not be a slam dunk.

Washington and the Bears may have already committed to the position with Ryan Fitzpatrick and Andy Dalton, respectively. The Colts made their big move for Carson Wentz. (Whoopsies all around!) But the Broncos certainly need a QB. The Saints and Sean Payton may see Garoppolo as a better option than both Jameis Winston and Taysom Hill. The Panthers figure to be frisky in the QB hunt. Jon Gruden is liable to get overly excited about a handsome QB at any given moment, so don't rule the Raiders out, either.

It seems as though if (when) Garoppolo is dangled out as trade bait, the Patriots won't be alone in their interest.

The question then becomes whether or not Lynch gives Belichick an inside track, considering Belichick was the one that delivered Garoppolo to San Francisco for a rather low price in the first place. That theory is fun and juicy and all of that, but is it realistic?

We'll find out. Certainly, it feels safe to assume that Belichick -- who used his highest pick on a QB ever to take Garoppolo out of Eastern Illinois back in 2014 -- has fond feelings for Garoppolo. Bill would even text his congratulations to Garoppolo after games in 2017. Any time you can get Belichick to willingly take his phone out to communicate with you, you've got yourself a special relationship with the man.

As far as his play goes, Garoppolo has been good but not great in San Francisco. He's completed 67.5 percent of his passes and averaged 8.3 yards per attempt, which is excellent. But he's thrown 46 touchdown and 26 interceptions, and he's missed 23 games due to injury since 2018. His playoff performance in 2019 -- when he was trusted to throw just 58 passes in three games, and when he threw two touchdowns and three interceptions en route to a Super Bowl loss -- was not particularly inspiring.

But there's no accounting for the roots of a relationship like the one that Belichick has with Garoppolo. And as recently as yesterday, we heard about the Pats still "sniffing around" on a Garoppolo trade. A reunion now seems to be less about making sense as it does about dollars and cents.

Jimmy Garoppolo and Bill Belichick (Photo by Barry Chin/The Boston Globe via Getty Images)

We do know this: After going 7-9 last year in the first season of the post-Tom Brady era, Belichick has been on a warpath to rebuild his team into a Super Bowl contender. He's already upgraded his roster across the board -- especially at tight end, wide receiver, and linebacker -- but the quarterback position remains a question to many folks as they assess the Patriots' chances in 2021. Bringing in a QB who learned everything he knows about NFL offenses from Josh McDaniels and Bill Belichick? It's easy to see how that could be viewed as a season-altering kind of move.

For now, though, we can't look ahead that far. At this moment, it just seems like the right time to bust out the Jimmy G. GIFs on Twitter and perhaps take that No. 10 jersey out of storage. It might soon come in handy.

You can email Michael Hurley or find him on Twitter @michaelFhurley.

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