No sooner did Dak Prescott sustain a six- to eight-week injury to his right thumb than speculation began about having Jimmy Garoppolo wear the Dallas star as a temporary fix for the ailing Cowboys.
Makes sense for Dallas as opposed to lining up with Cooper Rush at quarterback. Might make sense for the 49ers depending on what they could extort from Dallas in return. Suddenly that premium draft pick pipe dream may be within reach via trade.
The person it doesn’t make sense for is Garoppolo unless he can get back to his $24.2 million or so he was to receive this season before accepting a lesser deal to back up Trey Lance. His restructured deal allows him to veto any trade. Dallas owner Jerry Jones isn’t above taking players to “the basement” and putting a lot of zeroes at the end of a check.
As the story goes, that’s how Jones stopped Sean Payton from taking the Raiders’ head coach job back in the day. Payton had essentially agreed to terms to work for Al Davis. The Raiders were preparing a press conference behind the scenes. Then Jones took Payton to the basement and wrote the check, with coach Bill Parcells also advising against the Raiders.
The Raiders wound up having a press conference with no coach, explaining the deal had never been finalized rather than simply canceling the whole thing.
The thing is, it may be better for Garoppolo in the long term financially by staying put and the Cowboys as currently constructed are more a nightmare than a dream job. This isn’t the same Cowboys team that averaged 32 points per game last season before Garoppolo and the 49ers beat them 23-17 last Jan. 16 in a wild card game.
Garoppolo would be signing up for the following:
Giving the job back to Prescott: Prescott got $160 million maximum and $95 million guaranteed to stay with Dallas. When he comes back, it’s his job. It’s much different than Garoppolo taking over at quarterback knowing he’ll get the rest of the season to start. The team belongs to Prescott. Case closed.
Learning an entirely new system on the fly: Everything Garoppolo knows in terms of a system is rooted with the 49ers since 2017. To make an in-season switch to how the Cowboys do things offensively is a big ask.
Playing behind a leaky offensive line: Why do you think Prescott is out, anyway? Left tackle Tyron Smith tore a hamstring in late August. He and center Ryan Jensen are both on injured reserve. Dallas got nothing going offensively in a 19-3 loss to Tampa Bay.
Sagging weaponry: The Cowboys let Amari Cooper go and Michael Gallup is injured. Teams are locking up CeeDee Lamb as a result. Ezekiel Elliott hasn’t been a dominant back for a few years now.
Potential coaching change: Would anyone be surprised if Mike McCarthy didn’t last the year?
More scrutiny than he got with the 49ers: With all that as a backdrop, Garoppolo would be playing for the Cowboys. And if Garoppolo thought his every move was dissected in the Bay Area, just wait until he gets the Metroplex experience. It would come in a situation fraught with peril in terms of potential for bad games and driving down any chances for a big payday somewhere else in 2023.
On the flip side, Garoppolo is comfortable with the 49ers system and coach Kyle Shanahan. He knows from experience that Shanahan can work around his weaknesses and furnish plays and play calls which enable him to be successful.
Garoppolo is well-liked and popular in Santa Clara, and Sunday’s 19-10 loss to the Chicago Bears aside, is with a much better and much more stable team.
He is also playing for a team with a second-year starter in Lance who is going to get a long leash from Shanahan — provided he stays healthy. If Lance simply can’t cut it, it’s Jimmy G to the rescue.
Another scenario that puts Garoppolo back in the saddle is injury. One thing we know about Lance from the opening week — he is perfectly willing to lower his head and drive into the defense for a first down. Lance is doing most of his running inside and scrambles and not on the perimeter, where he can look for the safety of the sideline. There’s an element of risk in Lance’s play that is undeniable and one of the biggest reasons the 49ers wanted Garoppolo back at a lower price if at all possible.
It was either get Jimmy G back or roll the dice on seventh-round pick Brock Purdy out of Iowa State.
Even if Lance stays healthy, Garoppolo could be better served to remain a backup all season and go into next year healthy and with a clean slate rather than have the stain of Dallas circling the drain on his resume.
Sometimes the best moves are ones you don’t make.