After praising Jimmy Garoppoloâ€™s sterling record, study habits and market-rate salary, coach Kyle Shanahan concluded Mondayâ€™s media session with a touch of his dry humor.
â€œAny more Jimmy, free agency questions?â€ Shanahan asked in deadpan fashion over video conference. â€œOne more week. But then Iâ€™ll be on vacation guys, sorry.â€
Is Jimmy going to play? (@huizar_11)
On Sunday? It would be â€œshockingâ€ if he gets medical clearance, to use Shanahanâ€™s word. Will Garoppolo play for the 49ers in 2021? â€œYes, I do believe Jimmyâ€™s going to be our quarterback next year,â€ Shanahan said.
Jimmy G extension? (@danny947)
That thought-bubble resurfaced in my head as Shanahan repeatedly defended Garoppoloâ€™s market-rate salary, at $24 million in each of his contractâ€™s remaining two years. â€œItâ€™s not like itâ€™s something ridiculous or anything like that, so we can work all that out,â€ Shanahan said. Work what out? An extension, making it more of a cap-friendly rate in a cost-conscious 2021? I havenâ€™t heard from Garoppoloâ€™s agents but it wouldnâ€™t be surprising after hearing Shanahan sing Jimmy Gâ€™s praises, yet again.
Ahkello Witherspoon tends to shine at the end of every season. Do you think we will re-sign him? (@jaaaames036)
Aside from a pick-6 in the 2019 opener, perhaps the best play in four seasons came Saturday, when his end zone interception preserved an upset of the Arizona Cardinals. Still, I suspect Witherspoon cashes in elsewhere in free agency, even after Shanahan praised how Witherspoonâ€™s hard work and upstanding attitude got him out of this seasonâ€™s doghouse.
Did Kerry Hyder Jr. play himself out of our cap space? (@jslader33)
With a career-high 8 1/2 sacks, Hyder certainly outplayed his current price tag ($1.5 million). The 49ers would be wise to retain him. Just donâ€™t spend too much on someone entering his 30s. As for their limited cap space, Iâ€™m leery of it, more so in that we donâ€™t know for sure how tight it will be, especially if more room is created via a 17th game.
If the team declines Robbie Gouldâ€™s (2021) option, would he still play on Sunday? (@ninerscentral_)
Iâ€™d bet Gould would not want to forfeit a $255,882 game check, and heâ€™d actually be pretty excited about entering 2021 free agency. Remember, he requested a trade prior to hammering out his contract before the 2019 season. Game-winning kicks like last monthâ€™s over the Rams should entice the 49ers, who otherwise may reconsider after Saturdayâ€™s three missed kicks that jeopardized their win over Arizona.
Has Richard Sherman quit on this team? (@j.m.p.9)
As insulting as that question is to his 10-year legacy, I get it. Look at it this way, however: his season-long calf injury still pains him, and him sitting with Garoppolo in a suite frees up playing time for the younger cornerbacks to improve their free agency stock like they did last game. Iâ€™m Sherman is not happy about missing the playoffs for only the fourth time of his career but not to the blasphemous point heâ€™d abandon ship.
Even after heâ€™s said it would take a miracle for the cap-stapped 49ers to re-sign him, I wonder if that is more gamesmanship on behalf of a player acting as his own agent, and same goes when he tweets back to fansâ€™ farewells.
Preciate that! It was blessing to be a part of this team.
â€” Richard Sherman (@RSherman_25) December 29, 2020
If you had final say in the draft, are you going interior O-line or cornerback? (@MoeTovar)
I wouldnâ€™t use a first-round pick on either position, nor do I anticipate the 49ers shifting their roster-building philosophy, unless theyâ€™re convinced Caleb Farley or Patrick Surtain II is a Hall of Fame-caliber cornerback.
Do you see the 49ers moving on from Dee Ford due to health concerns? (@flacidpidgeons)
That is the way itâ€™s looking. When Ford reported neck and back pains after the opener, that was a red flag, seeing as such issues can be career enders. So far, theyâ€™ve been a season ender. But Robert Saleh told me last week that Ford has been an uplifting presence with the 49ers at their Arizona digs, so perhaps the 49ers rework his 2021 salary like they did Jerick McKinnonâ€™s for this year (or perhaps Saleh is thinking as a future head coach who wants Ford with him).
What do the 49ers have to do to upgrade the QB2 spot going into 2021? (@jdlohse)
The No. 1 thing is to make sure QB1 (Garoppolo) is fully healthy and hopefully more durable. I can see Shanahan drafting a potential successor, more so than adding an experienced starter. As Shanahan said Monday: â€œDo you want to go get a starter as a backup quarterback? Then youâ€™ve just got to decide if you want to spend the majority of your salary cap on your first and your second-string quarterbacks.â€