SANTA CLARA - I hear the narrative when I’m in my car.
A sports talk radio host will ask his audience, “Should the 49ers sign Jimmy Garoppolo to a long-term contract now? Has he shown enough for the organization to make the commitment?”
I hear the narrative when fans call into the show. Someone will say, “No, we have to see Garoppolo play more games before we sign him.” Or, “Yes, now is the time. He has proven he’s future of the franchise.”
I even hear the narrative when I’m at work. Kyle Shanahan will say he’s encouraged by Garoppolo’s recent performances, but they have no impact on Shanahan’s desire to re-sign him. He will wait until the season is over before he decides whether to give Garoppolo a long-team extension or the franchise tag.
This narrative seems like backward reasoning. It assumes Garoppolo is auditioning for the 49ers. He isn’t. The 49ers are auditioning for him. I repeat, the 49ers are auditioning for him.
My gut feeling, which people around the league have confirmed, tells me the 49ers would sign Garoppolo right now to a long-term deal if they could. They would have signed him a month and a half ago when they made the deal.
The 49ers are committed to him. Their evaluation period ended the minute they traded a high second-round pick — a precious commodity — to get him, and announced publicly he is their franchise quarterback.
They’re all in with Jimmy.
Jimmy isn’t all in with them. That’s the problem. Jimmy wants to wait and see. Jimmy is undecided.
The 49ers are pretending they’re undecided. They’re trying to keep their pride.
Garoppolo has no allegiance to the 49ers. They didn’t draft or develop him. He hardly knows anyone in the organization, from the players to the coaching staff to the front office. And he doesn’t know if he can succeed in Santa Clara now and in the future, even though he won his first two starts.
Before Garoppolo agrees to a long-term extension with the 49ers, my gut tells me he will want to see the makeup of the organization next season. Who will the 49ers sign in free agency? Who will they take in the draft? Who will play running back? Who will play tight end? Will the team overhaul the offensive line? Will the team acquire a No. 1 receiver? Will the team make changes to the coaching staff or the front office? Will those changes please Garoppolo?
Look at the reality of what’s going on.
Garoppolo has more power than the 49ers do. They need him more than he needs them.
The 49ers aren’t in position to negotiate with him. Forget negotiations. At some point after the season, Garoppolo and his agent will come to the 49ers with a list of demands — money he wants the team to pay him, players he wants the team to sign, changes he wants the organization to make.
The 49ers have to hope the demands are reasonable. Have to hope Garoppolo doesn’t take advantage of his power over them.
Recently, the 49ers naively ceded Garoppolo even more power. Both Shanahan and general manager John Lynch stated they will award Garoppolo the franchise tag if he doesn’t sign a multiyear extension.