What’s going to happen with Jimmy Garoppolo? Fans want to know. The media wants to know. The San Francisco 49ers are probably anxious to find out. The veteran quarterback has likely thrown his last pass with the team. The Niners tried to trade him, but offseason shoulder surgery stalled those talks.

The 49ers would prefer to avoid releasing Garoppolo and getting nothing in return. Instead, they are waiting for Garoppolo’s shoulder to heal and see if a more desirable option presents itself.

Many feel the Carolina Panthers could be an option. They could use an upgrade at quarterback, and most would consider Garoppolo better than their current group of Sam Darnold, PJ Walker, and rookie Matt Corral, even if the 49ers quarterback is only a stop-gap.

“[I]f the Panthers want to compete for a playoff spot, they need an upgrade at quarterback, even if it is a one-year rental,” Jonathan M. Alexander of The Charlottes Observer recently wrote.”[Panthers coach Matt] Rhule has said he’d like Corral to sit and learn before playing, to not ruin a rookie in his first year.”

While Garoppolo seems like a good fit for the Panthers, Carolina may view the 49ers quarterback as too expensive, especially considering his injury history. Instead, the Panthers may prefer Baker Mayfield. However, they would prefer the Cleveland Browns eat a good chunk of the quarterback’s salary as part of the terms of a trade.

“Finding a veteran rental who is an upgrade would allow Corral to sit and develop,” wrote Alexander. “Mayfield seems like the best, and most likely option over San Francisco’s Jimmy Garoppolo even if Panthers receiver Robbie Anderson isn’t thrilled with the idea of ​​Mayfield coming to Charlotte.

“But Garoppolo’s recent shoulder surgery, as well as his injury history, is a far greater concern for some within the organization. The Panthers want no part of his $26.9 million salary, and the 49ers haven’t shown a willingness to take to carry those payments in a trade.”

So the question remains: If the 49ers can’t trade Garoppolo and don’t want to release him, risking the 30-year-old signing with the quarterback-needy Seattle Seahawks, what options are left? While trading Garoppolo is Plan A, San Francisco has maintained that holding onto the quarterback for the 2022 season is not entirely off the table.

One NFL insider recently shared his opinion, stating that he believes the 49ers should allow Garoppolo to compete for the starting job if he were to remain.

“I would say they would like to trade him, but they don’t have to,” Ian Rapoport said this week. “And if Trey Lance isn’t ready, and you have Garoppolo for [over] $20 million, and you can’t trade him because he’s not healthy enough in time to be traded, you’ve got to let him get out there and compete. What if he is the better quarterback?”

San Francisco has to be careful if they go down that road. If they allow Garoppolo to compete and he is injured, they are stuck with the quarterback and his hefty salary, which becomes guaranteed.

The 49ers expect Garoppolo to start throwing again in about a month. Don’t expect the quarterback situation to be resolved before then.