NFL free agency: Kyle Shanahan shuts door on possibility of Jimmy Garoppolo returning to 49ers

The Jimmy Garoppolo era of the San Francisco 49ers appears to be over for real this time.

With the former Niners starting quarterback hitting free agency, head coach Kyle Shanahan firmly ruled out any possibility of re-signing him while speaking with reporters Wednesday.

Asked if he could see a potential Garropolo return given the Niners' uncertainty at quarterback, Shanahan bluntly replied "No, I don't see any scenario of that."

The Niners are entering the offseason with Brock Purdy and Trey Lance as options to start under center in 2023. Lance, the third overall pick of the 2021 NFL Draft, was named the starter to open the season, but sustained a season-ending broken ankle in Week 2.

Purdy, the Mr. Irrelevant of the 2022 NFL Draft, ended up taking over as starter when Garoppolo went down in Week 13 and led San Francisco to eight straight wins between the end of the regular season and the playoffs, but is now recovering from a torn UCL from the NFC championship game.

San Francisco 49ers quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo (10) looks on prior to the NFC Championship NFL football game against the Philadelphia Eagles, Sunday, Jan. 29, 2023, in Philadelphia. (AP Photo/Chris Szagola)
Jimmy Garoppolo is leaving the Niners. (AP Photo/Chris Szagola)

Jimmy Garoppolo leaving Niners for real this time

Garoppolo has been a member of the 49ers since the 2017 in-season trade that took him from being the New England Patriots' high-profile backup to the starter in San Francisco.

Over the next half-decade, Garoppolo led the Niners to consistent winning records and Super Bowl LIV. That didn't stop the team from trading up and drafting Lance. Despite the team's success, questions constantly circled around whether the Niners, one of the NFL's most talented teams, could do better at QB.

The Niners were widely expected to trade Garoppolo last offseason when Lance was poised to take over as starter, but shockingly kept him on a restructured one-year deal. That ended up being a fortuitous move when Lance was injured, up until Garoppolo himself went down.

Now Garoppolo enters free agency hoping to find a team willing to bet on him as a starter. At worst, he would likely be a premium backup for a contender. Meanwhile, the Niners will likely look for their own backup, but Shanahan didn't provide much detail to reporters beyond wanting "the best available [quarterback] that can fit into the structure of our team and the salary cap."

Purdy and Lance are still rehabbing. Shanahan said he expected Lance to be ready to practice around the beginning of OTAs in April, while Purdy will likely need several more months.