San Francisco 49ers quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo was at the center of numerous trade rumors earlier this year. With the team moving up in the draft to supposedly select a new passer, his future with the organization was very much in question.
One potential trade destination for Garoppolo? His former team. The idea of him returning to the New England Patriots was mentioned repeatedly by analysts, even though a) the 49ers publicly stood behind their incumbent starting quarterback, and b) a trade would have made little fiscal sense from New England’s perspective.
And yet, the rumors persisted and even found their way into Seth Wickersham’s new book It’s Better to Be Feared (via Matt Miller):
In @SethWickersham’s book, he reports that the Patriots called the 49ers asking about Jimmy Garoppolo’s trade value on Day 1 of the draft. New England reportedly offered a 2nd; San Francisco wanted a 1st— Matt Miller (@nfldraftscout) October 27, 2021
Apparently, the Patriots called the 49ers about Garoppolo, and ended up offering a second-round draft selection for him. However, San Francisco wanted a first-round pick and new trade materialized.
According to 49ers head coach Kyle Shanahan, however, that never happened. Asked during a press conference this week if there was any truth to the report, he shut down the rumor.
“No. None,” Shanahan said. “I’d also like to not keep answering questions about a book. I promise, if that was the case, I would have talked to their head coach.”
So, did Wickersham make the whole story up? That seems unlikely, even though Patriots fans probably remember him as the author of some articles painting the franchise in less than favorable light (oftentimes seemingly based more on speculation than fact). It is hard to tell what really happened, but one possible explanation is the following.
New England did indeed ask the 49ers about Garoppolo, but did not end up offering a draft pick for a trade. Instead, the team simply wanted to gauge his trade value to either get a feel for the market or to prepare a potential move but only in case the price was reasonable (the Patriots, for example, would have had to rework his contract to make a move).
Obviously, though, we are all left to speculate. What we can say, though, is this: only one person has publicly spoken about the rumor, and that one person denied an offer was ever made.