SANTA CLARA — Friday was part press conference, part sales pitch.
The 49ers had signed quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo the day before to a record five-year, $137.5 million contract. The next morning, Garoppolo, general manager John Lynch and head coach Kyle Shanahan spoke to the media in the 49ers auditorium and answered questions about the deal.
At times, they were talking directly to free agents.
“We feel like we’ve got our guy now,” Lynch said as he sat on the stage next to Garoppolo. “He’s a foundational piece. (Signing him) was urgent for us heading into free agency. This is a big deal.
“It’s 75 degrees and sunny outside. We’ve got this guy. Who wouldn’t want to be here? We want to become a destination where everyone wants to be. We’ve got a long way to go. We were 6-10. We’re fully aware of that. We’ve got to earn it just like this guy has.”
The 49ers have between $62 million and $63 million in cap space remaining for 2018 after completing Garoppolo’s contract. Only two other teams have more cap space — the Cleveland Browns and the Indianapolis Colts.
The 49ers had more than $100 million in cap space before completing Garoppolo’s contract. But they frontloaded the deal. Assuming he misses no games, he will earn $42.6 million in 2018, $18.6 million in 2019 and $25.2 million in 2020.
“We had the flexibility to do that,” Chief Strategy Officer Paraag Marathe said after the news conference. “That was helpful for us. It didn’t compromise our cap position this year. We’re still in a really good spot.”
Beginning in 2020, the 49ers can cut Garoppolo if it comes to that. After 2019, his deal essentially will become a series of one-year contracts. When the 49ers signed Colin Kaepernick in 2014, they structured his contract the same way.
Garoppolo could have made more money had he signed the franchise tag the next three years instead of agreeing to this five-year contract now. So why did he sign the contract?
“Because this is where I want to be, honestly,” Garoppolo said. “I wanted to get this deal done as fast as possible. It’s only going to help our team going into free agency.”
The 49ers seem to have big plans for free agency with Garoppolo now their big draw.
“By no means are we done or even close to done,” Shanahan said.
“We’re going to be aggressively prudent,” Lynch said.
49ers CEO Jed York lingered next to the stage after the press conference and explained what Lynch meant by “aggressively prudent.”
“I don’t know what’s going to be available, but we at least have the opportunity to be flexible and maneuver the way that we’d like to be able to maneuver and figure out how do we continue to add to this club? Whether it’s re-signing our own guys, or finding some other folks and other pieces to add.
“We’re working on other guys who are on the roster right now, and we certainly would love to get more of our own guys re-signed — that always has been our philosophy. Build through the draft and supplement through free agency. But when you have a few bad drafts and you have a lot of cap space, at some point you need to start going outside and figuring out how you can add some other pieces.”