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Locking up Jimmy Garoppolo speeds up 49ers’ timeline to contend

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John Lynch, Jimmy Garoppolo and Kyle Shanahan answer questions at Levi’s Stadium in Santa Clara on Friday. (Stan Olszewski/Special to S.F. Examiner)

SANTA CLARA — Jimmy Garoppolo is here to stay, and the 49ers are betting that will lead to success sooner than you think.

On Friday, general manager John Lynch brought up none other than the Philadelphia Eagles as an example of how fast an NFL organization can turn itself around. This, of course, came precisely one day after the Eagles paraded down Broad Street, celebrating their first-ever Super Bowl win.

The Niners see that as their goal as well, and while they wouldn’t commit to any long-term expectations, they made it clear Garoppolo is the key to making it happen.

The team’s braintrust viewed locking up its franchise quarterback as an essential step to crushing it in free agency.

Paraag Marathe estimated the 49ers have $62-63 million remaining in cap space after the Garoppolo signing — third-most in the league after the Cleveland Browns and the Indianapolis Colts.

Neither of those teams have the foundation the Niners do. The Browns just went 0-16, and the Colts were just embarrassed by their presumed coach pulling out at the last minute. (Not to mention the inherent recruiting limitations of living in the Rust Belt.)

Prime free agents will consider moving to Santa Clara. The 49ers are counting on it.

“This is a big piece. But one of the reasons there was urgency, if there was some, [was because we’re] heading into free agency, and this is a big deal,” Lynch said. “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.”

That was a major theme of Garoppolo’s coronation on Friday: The Niners are committing to him early so free agents know they’re coming to a team with an established foundation. They have a GM and coach that players like and trust. And now they have a quarterback who inspires hope and excitement. Garoppolo had a positive effect on the locker room shortly after he landed in San Jose in October. There’s no uncertainty about this team’s long-term plans.

CEO Jed York said the team prefers to build through the draft and “supplement through free agency” before acknowledging that a few bad drafts will force a team to look outside its own facility for help. Trent Baalke took care of the first conditional statement, so it’s time for Kyle Shanahan, Lynch and Marathe to make corrections in the free agency market.

Marathe has a reputation for drafting team-friendly contracts. He crafted Garoppolo’s contract to be front-loaded so the Niners maintain freedom. From the sound of it, it was a win-win.

Garoppolo became the highest-paid quarterback in the league despite making just seven starts, and the 49ers aren’t restricted in building around him. He also gets about $10 million more over the next two years than he would’ve if the 49ers had used the franchise tag on him, according to ESPN’s Adam Schefter.

After the 2017 season, which was defined by Lynch and Shanahan preaching patience and taking the long approach to rebuilding, it’s clear the franchise is speeding up its timeline for contention.

“We have one goal in mind, and that’s to get to a Super Bowl and win it,” Garoppolo said. “We want a parade just like Philly had one, and that’s our goal here.”

It’s going to be an exciting offseason for the 49ers. Getting Garoppolo in place for the next half-decade makes it possible.


Total: 5 years, $137.5 million

Signing bonus: $7 million

Roster bonus: $28 million (guaranteed)

Year 1 total: $42.6 million

2018 base salary: $6.2 million (all guaranteed)

Workout bonus: $600,000

Per-game roster bonus: $800,000

Year 2 total: $18.6 million

2019 base salary: $17.2 million ($7.5 million guaranteed)

Workout bonus: $600,000

Per-game roster bonus: $800,000

Year 3 total: $25.2 million

2020 base salary: $23.8 million ($15.7 million injury guarantee)

Potential out if 49ers cut him by April 1, 2020

Workout bonus: $600,000

Per-game bonus: $800,000

Year 4 total: $25.5 million

2021 base salary: $24.1 million

Workout bonus: $600,000

Per-game roster bonus: $800,000

49ers making NFC Championship or Garoppolo being named to All Pro team (first- or second-team) trigger $7.5 million injury guarantee

Year 5 total: $25.6 million

2022 base salary: $24.2 million

Workout bonus: $600,000

Per-game roster bonus: $800,000

Source: ESPN’s Adam Schefter

Contact Examiner Sports Editor Jacob C. Palmer at jpalmer@sfexaminer.com or on Twitter, @jacobc_palmer.

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