Keeping Jimmy Garoppolo happy should be the 49ers' top priority this offseason. (Stan Olszewski/Special to S.F. Examiner)

Keeping Jimmy Garoppolo happy should be the 49ers' top priority this offseason. (Stan Olszewski/Special to S.F. Examiner)

Jimmy Garoppolo’s happiness should be 49ers’ top offseason priority

SANTA CLARA — Keep Jimmy Garoppolo happy.

The 49ers’ offseason to-do list has a clear top priority, whether the team admits it or not.

That could mean several things, but the lift he has brought the franchise is undeniable, and that puts the onus on the Niners front office and the quarterback’s representation to find common ground.

“We want Jimmy to be a Niner for a long, long time,” general manager John Lynch said at Levi’s Stadium on Tuesday. He repeated the phrase when pressed about the proceedings.

“That process is going to take place here, and we’re eager to get that done — to have the opportunity,” Lynch added.

The negotiations will likely boil down to one question: Will the 49ers pay Garoppolo like he’s one of the best quarterbacks in the league?

If they aren’t ready to do that, the talks will break down, and Lynch will use the team’s franchise tag on him — the stated plan earlier this season.

The franchise tag comes with some inherent challenges. Washington’s treatment of Kirk Cousins is the prime example of the kind of disharmony using the franchise tag can reap. The team has stuck Cousins with the tag for two-straight seasons, and it led to him openly talking about how excited he was for free agency in the middle of the season. That’s not what you want from the face of your franchise.

Plus, Garoppolo is better than Cousins.

Get the deal done, 49ers. There’s no point in hesitation when you’ll have some of the deepest pockets in the NFL.

Contact Examiner Sports Editor Jacob C. Palmer at jpalmer@sfexaminer.com or on Twitter, @jacobc_palmer.john lynchkyle shanahanSan Francisco 49ers

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