• John Bulmer

Can You Have Your Cake And Eat It Too? Why Mac Jones & Jimmy G is the Worst of Both Worlds

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Hey, it’s me again.

Y’know, that guy. The one who talks about the things you don’t even want to acknowledge. But I need to get this one off my chest, call it a catharsis if you like; a problem shared is a problem halved and all that.

Anyway, here it is, a nightmare vision of the near future – make sure you are sitting comfortably, preferably with a stiff drink in hand. Fast-forward to Day 1 of the draft, and the moment we’ve all been dreading:

With the third pick of the 2021 NFL draft, the San Francisco 49ers select … Mac Jones, quarterback, Alabama.

Thousands of faithful faces slump, anguished cries go up all over the Bay Area, people throw stuff at the TV - you get the idea.

It is done, the 49ers pull the trigger on the most unpopular draft pick since, well, errr – ever? But what then? How do we move forward?

The Rebirth of Jimmy G.

Fast forward to training camp when a reinvigorated, newly popular Jimmy Garoppolo swaggers in, looking fresh and outplaying the beleaguered, unwanted rookie. The front office says all the right things of course: “We know we can win with Jimmy. This was always the plan, Mac needs time to learn the offense, we have two great quarterbacks we believe in.” Local reporters are briefed regularly about how well the rookie is doing, the maturity he’s showing, work ethic, et cetera, but the fan base remains skeptical.

If You Have Two Quarterbacks, You Have None(John Madden)

Where do we go now? Well, the short term prognosis is actually quite good. Garoppolo starts the season well and rides a wave of goodwill to some early season success, he stays healthy and the 49ers make the playoffs but fall just short of making the Super Bowl. Mac Jones has a few snaps when games are won to spell Jimmy and gets looks in garbage time and it doesn’t really amount to much.

All sounds fine - right? Wrong. The 49ers’ locker room, which was always Team Jimmy, is vocal in its support of its leader, the fan base which was unsure and divided the previous year are suddenly swaying back towards the veteran. Meanwhile, the former Alabama star and number-three pick is in no-man’s land, still hasn’t proved himself, and still hasn’t won over the locker room or the fans who never really wanted him in the first place.

What Next?

As thoughts turn to the 2022 season, 49ers fans remember that the team no longer hasa first-round pick (and one less third) and The Trade (as it is now not so affectionately known) is endlessly debated on Twitter and on talk radio. Jimmy Garoppolo is in the final year of his contract and due to earn north of $25 million for the coming season. Teams are hovering but waiting to see what the Niners do with the contract first. Do they restructure and try to capitalize on their rejuvenated passer, or do they have to cut due to cap realities (as all those one-year deals from last year coming back to haunt them)? A crucial decision awaits. In the words of Green Day, “Another turning point, a fork stuck in the road.”

Ok, I’m Depressed Now – Was There a Point Here?

Bear with me but yes, there is.

The point is this, I don’t think in this case that you can have your cake and eat it. If Mac Jones (the most pro-ready quarterback in the draft, apparently?) is the pick, it is going to be unpopular and he’s going to need to get off to a fast start to win over the legions of doubters.

If you do this (and I really don’t believe you should) you must go all in. If he’s as good, as ready and as clean a fit as some believe, he may just strike lucky with a loaded 49ers roster and post a winning season and the playoffs. He may just win over enough of the doubters to begin to establish himself.

However, if you hedge and keep Jimmy, and he outplays the rookie that the majority of fans have always had doubts about, then Jones is in danger of becoming a lame duck or the outsider in a quarterback controversy after just one season and the pick would cast a long shadow over the 49ers roster building for the next two years.

In some ways, I would actually respect the cajones shown by Kyle and John if they make this move. If they have the courage of their convictions and are prepared to put their heads above the parapet to make this decision, then good luck to them. But they also need to have the courage to break ties with Jimmy and hand their guy the keys.

Making decisions is risky, but that’s why they get paid the big bucks. In this case, I would argue that not making a decision could be even riskier.

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