The 49ers promoted 22-year-old Trey Lance to QB1 ahead of the 2022 NFL season, a move short-lived when Lance suffered a season-ending ankle injury on Sept. 18.
In Week 2, Jimmy Garoppolo finished the game back under center.
Garoppolo's demotion, paired with the contract that allows him to hit free agency in March, means he'll be sought after for next season. NFL.com analyst David Carr said the Jets and Saints should make a run for the seasoned quarterback, while the 49ers should look to retain him.
1. San Francisco 49ers
With Lance working his way back from injury and only having four NFL starts under his belt, it makes sense for Kyle Shanahan to keep Garoppolo. The 31-year-old played six seasons under Shanahan's system.
Since taking back over, Garoppolo posted a 6-3 record, completing 67.4 percent of his passes and posting a 16:4 touchdown-to-interception ratio.
"Therefore, from the Niners' perspective, it could make plenty of sense for general manager John Lynch to re-sign the proven veteran with six years of experience in Kyle Shanahan's offense to a one- or two-year deal," Carr said.
2. New York Jets
The Jets have more than a current quarterback controversy. They have ties to Garoppolo.
Garoppolo could reunite with Jets coach Robert Saleh, the 49ers former defensive coordinator, and Jets offensive coordinator Mike LaFleur, the 49ers former passing game coordinator, in New York.
After Zach Wilson's careless decision-making and measly four touchdown passes thrown in seven games, Mike White took over at quarterback in Week 12. White and Joe Flacco become free agents in March, which would open up space in New York's quarterback room.
"Honestly, this could create a great opportunity for both Garoppolo and Wilson, with Jimmy G hungry to remain a starter and [Zach] Wilson, who could learn a lot from the vet, eager to prove the Jets did the right thing when drafting him No. 2 overall," Carr said.
3. New Orleans Saints
The Saints could use top playmakers Alvin Kamara and Chris Olave to draw Garoppolo to the south.
Jameis Winston went down in Week 3 with a back injury and hasn't played since. Andy Dalton took over, throwing for 2,023 yards and 14 touchdowns in nine games played.
Winston resigned with the Saints last offseason, while Dalton becomes a free agent after the season.
"This season, the 4-8 team has yet to win back-to-back games, and neither Jameis Winston nor Andy Dalton has felt like the long-term answer at the game's most important position," Carr said.
For the second straight season, Carr said Garoppolo should be touted as The Guy in New Orleans.