The Arizona Cardinals and San Francisco 49ers will contest the NFL's first game in Mexico City since 2019.

Estadio Azteca hosted a game every year from 2016 to 2019, save for the 2018 season when the Rams' clash with the Kansas City Chiefs was moved back to Los Angeles because of poor field conditions.

But the coronavirus pandemic meant there were no International Series games in 2020, with Mexico City left off the schedule for 2021.

It was confirmed in February that the Cardinals would host a game in Mexico City and it was announced on Wednesday that they will face their NFC West rivals on November 21.

Both the Cardinals and the Niners made the playoffs in 2021, Arizona losing in the Wild Card round to the eventual Super Bowl-champion Rams and San Francisco beaten by the same opposition in the NFC Championship Game.

The Cardinals and the Niners met in the first NFL game to be played in Mexico back in 2005, with Arizona claiming a 31-14 victory.

The Green Bay Packers' first regular-season game outside of the United States will see them face the New York Giants.

It was confirmed in February that reigning MVP Aaron Rodgers and Co. would play in London for the first time.

That game will take place at Tottenham Hotspur Stadium on October 9, with the Packers taking on a historic NFC foe in Week 5.

The Giants won the inaugural London game at Wembley in 2007, defeating the Miami Dolphins, and beat the Los Angeles Rams at Twickenham in 2016.

Tottenham will also play host to a clash between the Minnesota Vikings and New Orleans Saints on October 2.

Both the Vikings and Saints have played and won twice in London, New Orleans shutting out the Miami Dolphins on their last appearance in 2017.

The sole Wembley game will see new Denver Broncos quarterback Russell Wilson face Trevor Lawrence and the Jacksonville Jaguars at England's national stadium on October 30.

San Francisco 49ers general manager John Lynch expects All-Pro wide receiver Deebo Samuel to remain with the team in 2022.

Samuel last month requested a trade from the Niners, having reportedly refused to engage in contract negotiations with San Francisco. The 2022 season will mark the final year of his rookie deal.

A trade did not materialise during last week's NFL Draft, despite reported offers from the New York Jets and Detroit Lions, and Lynch is adamant the two parties can overcome their issues as the Niners seek to sign Samuel to a long-term deal.

Lynch told KNBR: "We're trying really hard with Deebo to work through whatever the issues might be.

"I always have really believed that there is a sacredness to those conversations and that they remain private, especially with things like this.

"I think it's in everyone's best interest we don't get into that. I don't think [the obstacles] are insurmountable. I think we can find a way to resolution, and we're hopeful for that because we know what he's been to this organisation.

"Thirty-sixth pick in 2019, and he's been so good on and off the field. Obviously, a tremendous player. He makes us better. I think we make him better. And we're hopeful that we get everything right and that we're rolling forward."

Asked if Samuel will be on the roster for the 2022 season, Lynch replied: "It's a yes for me, and that's our job. He's too good of a player.

"We've got too good of a thing going, and we want to keep that going. That's where I'll leave that."

Samuel's request was reported to be tied to dissatisfaction with his role in the 49ers' offense.

In addition to making 77 catches for 1,405 yards and six touchdowns – averaging a league-leading 18.2 yards per reception – in 2021, Samuel also carried the ball 59 times for 365 yards and eight touchdowns, breaking Eric Metcalf's record (six) for most rushing touchdowns by a wide receiver in a single season, set in 1989.

Samuel labelled himself a 'wide back' when asked to define his position, and his ability to do damage out of the backfield and as a receiver proved critical in the Niners' surge to the NFC Championship Game last season.

However, Samuel is thought to want to be used less in that multi-faceted manner, seemingly wary of his career being shortened by the wear and tear that comes with being deployed as a running back.

San Francisco picked running back Tyrion Davis-Price and receiver Danny Gray in the third round of the draft, with head coach Kyle Shanahan saying that pair can help lighten Samuel's workload.

The Niners are still to find a trade partner for Jimmy Garoppolo, who was expected to be moved on to allow last year's third overall pick Trey Lance to take over as the starting quarterback.

Revealing his belief they were close to a trade before Garoppolo's shoulder surgery, Lynch added: "I felt like we were close in some [trade] discussions, and then the decision was made to have surgery. That just brought things to a screeching halt. People just don't do that [commit to a trade], even with a likelihood that everything is going to be good.

"We continue to get calls about Jimmy, and we, as a group, got together and said he's too good of a player. He's got a lot of great tape out there. You don't just let guys like that walk out the door, and we want to either want to have Jimmy playing for us, which we're all right with, or we want him to get the value. ... I think once he starts throwing, people will feel more comfortable.

"And then, obviously, you've got to let things play out for other teams. ... Jimmy's a part of us. We're excited about that. But I think we all know that Trey's going to get the opportunity to go out there and play. He's got to earn that, but we believe he's in the process of doing that.

"It wouldn't be the worst thing in the world if both of them were still here, and we move forward, and ... he is equipped to do that."

Perhaps the biggest storyline entering the 2022 NFL Draft did not concern a prospect, but one of the premier wide receivers in the NFL. Deebo Samuel of the San Francisco 49ers was not traded during Thursday's first round but, if there were any doubts that wideout is now a premium position, they were extinguished emphatically in Las Vegas.

Six wide receivers came off the board in the first 18 picks amid a flurry of trades, including two involving established receivers who at least have one 1,000-yard season in their first three years in the NFL.

There was mild surprise when the Atlanta Falcons made USC's Drake London the first receiver picked with the eighth overall selection, but significantly more eyebrow-raising moves were to follow.

The New Orleans Saints jumped from 16 to 11 to pick Ohio State's Chris Olave one pick after his former college team-mate Garrett Wilson was taken by the Jets with a 10th pick that was reportedly offered to the Niners as part of a package for Samuel.

It was the Detroit Lions who made the most ambitious receiver trade of the night, jumping 20 spots up the board from 32 to 12 in a deal with the Minnesota Vikings to make Jameson Williams their second selection of the first round despite doubts over when he will be ready to play after tearing his ACL in the final game of his college career.

Williams' appeal is obvious, the former Alabama star a dynamic speedster who registered a burn, which is when a receiver wins his matchup with a defender on a play where he is targeted, on 74.6 per cent of his targets in 2021.

He led all receivers in burn yards per target, his average of 19.34 nearly five full yards better than that of his nearest challenger, Cincinnati's Alec Pierce (14.74), and was also the cream of the crop in burn yards per route (4.9).

But it is the scale of the move up the board that is illustrative of just how determined NFL teams have become to add big-play receivers to their offensive arsenal, and the message was further hammered home as, after the Washington Commanders used the 16th pick on another wideout in Jahan Dotson, the Philadelphia Eagles made the defining move of the first round with their trade with the Tennessee Titans, sending the 18th pick and a third-rounder to acquire A.J. Brown.

Brown, a Pro Bowler in 2020 before injuries disrupted his 2021 campaign, was promptly reported as having received a four-year extension with Philadelphia worth up to $100million, with $47m guaranteed, the $25million average annual value of that deal reportedly what Samuel was looking to be paid before he requested a trade from San Francisco.

The choice for teams wanting to keep a playmaking receiver on the roster seems to be clear. Pay over $20m a year for one or spend a premium pick on a rookie. The Titans, in trading Brown and then selecting a rookie with a comparable playing style in Treylon Burks out of Arkansas, elected to do the latter.

"We got to a spot where it was going to be hard to get a deal done," Titans general manager Jon Robinson said of Brown after the first round.

The Ravens ran into difficulty with his namesake Marquise Brown, who was said to have requested a trade after the season and was also dealt on draft night to the Arizona Cardinals in exchange for the 23rd overall pick.

While the Titans caved in and parted with Brown, the Niners remained steadfast in refusing to trade Samuel, even with a top-10 pick seemingly on the table, their resoluteness in itself reflecting the massive value of a player who was the heart and soul of the San Francisco offense as the 49ers made the NFC Championship Game last season.

Also running the ball out of the backfield consistently in a dual role, Samuel labelling himself a 'wide back', the 2019 second-round pick is a unique case. Yet the message that was definitively reiterated through the Niners refusal to part ways with him and the hive of activity surrounding receivers in the first round is clear, receivers who can make field-flipping momentum-changing plays are firmly among the most valued assets in the NFL.

Of the top 10 receivers with the most receptions of 20 yards or more in 2021, only two – Justin Jefferson and Tyler Lockett – did not feature on playoff teams. Four – Cooper Kupp (30), Samuel (23), Ja'Marr Chase (22) and Tee Higgins (17) – played on Conference Championship Sunday, as did the 11th-placed wideout in the category, Samuel's Niners team-mate Brandon Aiyuk (16).

Quarterback is king in the NFL, and tackle, edge rusher and offensive tackle have long since been viewed as next on the hierarchy as 'premium positions'. The 2021 season encapsulated the value of explosive wideouts and, with that campaign followed by an offseason in which Davante Adams and Tyreek Hill were both traded and received mega-deals and Thursday's first-round chaos brought on by the high demand for receivers, there can be little room for argument the position now carries the same importance as those other non-quarterback spots that have traditionally had the highest billing.

San Francisco 49ers general manager John Lynch said he "can't ever imagine wanting to move on from" Deebo Samuel after the star wide receiver requested a trade.

Samuel was used by the 49ers in a unique hybrid role for the 2021-22 season, increasing his productivity, but also increasing his wear-and-tear as he handled more physically demanding running back carries as well as his primary receiver duties.

The 2019 second-round pick amassed a career-high 1,405 receiving yards and six receiving touchdowns from 77 catches, and added career-highs in rushing yards (365), rushing touchdowns (eight) and carries (59).

Speaking to the media at a pre-draft press conference, Lynch said even after considering what the 49ers could gain through a trade, he views Samuel in the class of player in which a team should never part ways with by choice.

"I can't ever imagine wanting to move on from Deebo," he said.

"You put yourself through the exercises of, even though we don't have a first-round pick, you have to be thorough in this process and prepare for everything, and as you go through and do that [you realise] he's just too good of a player. You don't let guys like that walk."

The praise for Samuel did not end there, with Lynch calling him a "game-changing player for the franchise."

"I told Deebo this," he said. "I think he's the perfect illustration of what Herm Edwards used to talk about, 'When will meets skill you got the opportunity to be special' – and I think Deebo embodies that as much as anybody.

"He's got tremendous will. He's a very talented player. By virtue of the way he plays, it's inspiring. 

"So, to me, that entails leadership. Do you make people around you better? He checks that box. 

"He's a great teammate, and I think of things like prior to games, he gets out there and is throwing the ball to fans.

"He's a great member of our community. We got nothing but love for him."

Despite the public nature of Samuel's request to leave San Francisco, Lynch insists the bridge is not burnt, and he believes he can salvage the relationship.

"We pride ourselves on our communication with our players," he said. "This is no different. I'm confident we can find the solutions for whatever is going on.

"That's life, you've gotta work through things. That's what we plan on doing.”

All-Pro wide receiver Deebo Samuel has requested a trade from the San Francisco 49ers.

Samuel is entering the final year of his rookie contract and the Niners had been expected to attempt to tie him down to a long-term deal.

However, multiple reports claim Samuel is refusing to engage in discussions over a lucrative extension and is instead determined to force his way out.

According to NFL Media's Ian Rapoport, Samuel requested a trade over a week ago, with his dissatisfaction not solely tied to financial demands - he is said to want a contract in the region of $25million a year - but also with how is used in the 49ers' offense.

In addition to making 77 catches for 1,405 yards and six touchdowns – averaging a league-leading 18.2 yards per reception – in 2021, Samuel also carried the ball 59 times for 365 yards and eight touchdowns, breaking Eric Metcalf's record (six) for most rushing touchdowns by a wide receiver in a single season, set in 1989.

Samuel labelled himself a 'wide back' when asked to define his position, and his ability to do damage out of the backfield and as a wide receiver proved critical as he played a pivotal role in the Niners' surge to the NFC Championship Game last season.

However, Samuel appears keen to be used in an offense that will lean more heavily on his skills as a traditional receiver and avoid absorbing the extra physical punishment that comes with often being used as a de facto running back.

The 2019 second-round pick will have interest from around the NFL, but it remains to be seen whether the Niners will be willing to facilitate a trade.

Should a deal with another team fail to materialise prior to next week's 2022 NFL Draft, then Samuel will likely remain a Niner, with San Francisco almost certain to want to recoup assets that would allow them to immediately fill the void he would leave.

Deebo Samuel will reportedly skip the San Francisco 49ers' on-field offseason program as he seeks a contract extension from the team.

A report from ESPN's Adam Schefter said that Samuel, A.J. Brown of the Tennessee Titans and the Washington Commanders' Terry McLaurin will not take part in on-field drills as teams return for voluntary workouts in the coming days.

All three wide receivers are entering the final year of their rookie contract having been selected on day two of the 2019 NFL Draft.

Samuel was named a first-team All-Pro in 2021 after racking up 1,405 receiving yards and six touchdowns while also thriving running the ball out of the backfield.

He averaged 6.2 yards per carry in finishing with 365 yards on 59 attempts, with his eight regular-season rushing touchdowns an NFL record for a wide receiver – two clear of Eric Metcalf's previous benchmark of six for the 1989 Cleveland Browns.

His unique role in the offense, with Samuel describing himself as a 'wide back', will undoubtedly have complicated negotiations, which have so far shown no sign of delivering a resolution.

Samuel is said to be looking for a contract in the region of $25million a year, having seen the wide receiver market explode this offseason amid a flurry of high-profile trades and lucrative free-agent contracts.

Injuries prevented Brown from recording a third successive 1,000-yard season in 2021, but his 24 receiving touchdowns are the eighth-most among wideouts since 2019.

McLaurin has 16 in that time, recording a second consecutive 1,000-yard campaign for Washington last season as they failed to repeat their NFC East triumph of 2020.

Deebo Samuel has claimed he has received death threats and been targeted with racial slurs from fans over his contract negotiations with the San Francisco 49ers.

Wide receiver Samuel is entering the final year of his contract with the 49ers having enjoyed a career year in 2021.

He was named a first-team All-Pro after racking up 1,405 receiving yards and six touchdowns while also thriving running the ball out of the backfield.

Samuel averaged 6.2 yards per carry in finishing with 365 yards on 59 attempts, with his eight regular-season rushing touchdowns an NFL record for a wide receiver – two clear of Eric Metcalf's previous benchmark of six for the 1989 Cleveland Browns.

His unique role in the offense, with Samuel describing himself as a 'wide back', will undoubtedly have complicated negotiations, which have so far shown no sign of delivering a resolution. Samuel recently deleted all references to the 49ers on his Instagram page.

The 2019 second-round pick is said to be looking for a contract in the region of $25million a year, having seen the wide receiver market explode this offseason amid a flurry of high-profile trades and lucrative free-agent contracts.

In a video on Instagram, Samuel made it clear the appalling messages he says he has received on social media have not affected him.

"For all y'all fans that's in the DM, sending death threats and racial stuff, that don't bother me," Samuel said.

"Y'all the same ones that was just hoo-rahing and 'go Deebo!', now y'all want to send death threats and all racial stuff, it don't bother me, I'm cool, I'm chilling, I'm happy."

 

The NFL Draft is rarely dominated by teams in contention to lift the Lombardi Trophy at the end of the upcoming season.

Though trades regularly shuffle the pack, more often than not the draft headlines are made by teams who finished at the wrong end of the regular-season standings in the previous campaign, such is the nature of league's annual selection meeting.

While those franchises with rosters capable of contending to go all the way to the Super Bowl may not be as reliant on the draft as those rebuilding their teams, the selections they make can be critical in providing the potential final piece of what they hope will be a championship-winning puzzle.

Inevitably, not every team expected to contend in April will do so once the season gets under way in September.

Yet we can make educated guesses as to which teams will be in the mix to go deep into the postseason in each conference.

Here Stats Perform has identified four such teams from each conference, with the Cleveland Browns omitted from the list due to the threat of a possible suspension for new starting quarterback Deshaun Watson.

With help from some advanced metrics, we look at what each of these eight teams need to add in the draft to maximise their hopes of standing underneath the confetti in Arizona next February.

NFC

Los Angeles Rams

Identifying draft needs for the Rams is a difficult task not because they don't have any, but because they so often fill their holes by trading away their picks to land superstars.

This year, the Rams don't pick until 104 overall in the third round, not that the Super Bowl champions will mind skipping the first two rounds.

When it finally comes to their turn, the interior of the offensive line stands out as an area of weakness, while the Rams might also be eyeing an edge rusher to help fill the void left by Von Miller, whose stunt-adjusted pass rush win percentage of 43.4 was fifth among edge rushers with at least 100 one-on-one matchups last year.

San Francisco 49ers

The Niners are in a similar position to the Rams in that they don't have a lot of needs, though the urgency is greater for a team that let a fourth-quarter lead slip against Los Angeles in the NFC Championship Game.

Right guard has been a long-standing issue for San Francisco, and the Niners will also need to find a developmental center to replace Alex Mack when he eventually retires. Nebraska's Cam Jurgens is a name to watch there.

San Francisco do not pick until 61st overall in the second round, having traded this year's first-rounder in the package that landed Trey Lance. A defense that ranked first in pass rush win rate could be stacked further by another edge rusher to pair with Nick Bosa, and there is a clear need next to Jimmie Ward at safety.

Of course, what would really make it a successful draft for the Niners would be finally trading Jimmy Garoppolo to secure more picks.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers

There's a theme here, and the theme is that trying to find needs for NFC contenders is tough, especially in the case of the Bucs, who brought back Tom Brady after he quickly got bored with retirement and re-signed a host of free agents many expected to depart.

With Todd Bowles assuming the head coaching reins from Bruce Arians, it's fair to anticipate a focus on the defense from the Bucs, who own the 27th pick in the first round as well as two other top-100 selections.

More beef on the interior of the defensive line is required with Ndamukong Suh as yet not re-signed and, though Logan Ryan and Keanu Neal have signed as safety help to atone for Jordan Whitehead's departure, a rookie who can make a difference down in the box and in coverage would be a welcome addition to the defense.

Green Bay Packers

Now this is more like it. The Packers have one glaring, obvious need and there's no way they can fail to address it, right?

Brian Gutekunst may have a history of eschewing first-round wide receivers but, after trading Davante Adams to the Las Vegas Raiders, it would be an extremely bemusing move to risk Aaron Rodgers' wrath and do so again.

Chris Olave, Jameson Williams, Treylon Burks, Jahan Dotson... they all must be in the mix here and, with two selections in the first round, the Packers could even double up at the position.

There are other holes. The secondary could use some more quality depth, and an offensive line that ranked 28th in run-block win rate could also be improved, but the Packers' hopes of getting over the hump in 2022 likely rest on their ability to give Rodgers weapons that mitigate the impact of Adams' stunning departure.

AFC

Kansas City Chiefs

After Patrick Mahomes faced the most pressures in a Super Bowl since 2006 in consecutive years (28 in SB LIV, 34 in SB LV), the Chiefs overhauled their offensive line heading into 2021 and were confident they were on course for the title game once again – only for Mahomes' own stunning playoff collapse to end both the team's season and the career of Tyreek Hill in Kansas City.

Hill's departure in a trade to the Miami Dolphins leaves a gaping hole.

New signing Marquez Valdes-Scantling at least offers a downfield option, but that was his sole responsibility with the Packers in 2021, recording a league-high average depth of target of 17.6 yards but making just 26 catches. Valdes-Scantling and fellow recruit JuJu Smith-Schuster, who's coming off shoulder surgery, have just one 1,000-yard season between them; Hill has four.

Thankfully, the Hill deal means the Chiefs have plenty of draft picks – two in each of the first three rounds – and plenty of options at wide receiver, but safety Tyrann Mathieu and cornerback Charvarius Ward must also be replaced just to get Kansas City back to where they started.

Cincinnati Bengals

The Bengals are a year behind the Chiefs, beaten in the Super Bowl after leaving their quarterback horribly exposed. Joe Burrow faced 23 pressures against the Rams, tied for third-most since 2006.

Like the Chiefs, they quickly set about bolstering their O line in free agency, though there remains a pressing need at left guard. Ted Karras played there for the New England Patriots last year, but is set to move back into center after Trey Hopkins was cut.

That versatility at least gives the Bengals options at either position depending on how the draft plays out, with their first pick not until the end of the first round (31). In fact, given competition at cornerback, edge and/or tight end could also be sought, the Bengals may be flexible throughout.

Buffalo Bills

The Bills are the Super Bowl favourites, and with good reason. They were a coin flip away from beating the Chiefs and would have backed themselves against the Bengals, which might have quelled some of the optimism in Cincinnati channelled above. Buffalo have also added Super Bowl champion Miller to a defense that gave up a league-low 4.57 yards per play.

That's not to say there don't remain areas for improvement, with cornerback an obvious place to start. Tre'Davious White is returning from an ACL tear, and the Bills need a new man opposite him, given the loss of Levi Wallace.

The Bills might also be advised to ease the burden on all-action quarterback Josh Allen with the addition of a reliable running back. Allen ranked third among QBs for rushing yards in 2021 (763) but accounted for 34.5 per cent of his team's total – far and away the greatest share at his position.

Second on the list was former MVP Lamar Jackson (767 yards, 30.9 per cent), who's already showing signs of wear and tear having been tasked with running the Baltimore Ravens' offense.

Los Angeles Chargers

Outside the Packers, the Chargers perhaps have the most obvious positional need of any contender at right tackle – despite their own strong signings so far.

Left tackle Rashawn Slater was their first-round pick in 2021 and earned Pro Bowl recognition in his rookie season. Among offensive tackles with 200 or more pass protection snaps, Slater's stunt-adjusted win percentage of 90.5 ranked third. However, that stood in complete contrast to right tackle Storm Norton, whose 63.0 per cent ranked third-last.

Norton was brought in to play 15 games after a back injury put Bryan Bulaga on injured reserve. Bulaga has now been cut, and the Chargers surely cannot run it back with Norton.

The very best OTs in the draft are unlikely to still be available when the Chargers get to work in the middle of the first round, but it's no surprise to see them widely linked with Northern Iowa's Trevor Penning.

Frank Gore plans to sign a one-day contract with the San Francisco 49ers before retiring from the NFL.

Five-time Pro Bowler Gore turns 39 in May and did not feature at all last season after going unsigned following one-year spells with the New York Jets, Buffalo Bills and Miami Dolphins.

Prior to that, Gore played for the Indianapolis Colts after spending nine years in San Francisco, where he was selected as a third-round draft pick in 2005 after moving on from the Miami Hurricanes.

Gore, who has the third-most rushing yards in NFL history (16,000), expressed his desire to end his career with the 49ers as he intends to retire before taking up a staff role working for the franchise.

"Probably in a couple months," Gore told 49ers podcast TheSFNiners. "We're still trying to figure out when I'm going to do my one-day contract, to sign, do my retirement.

"I told [49ers chief executive] Jed York that I always wanted to be a Niner. So we're working on that right now, and then we're going to also sit down with me and my agent to talk about me working in the front office.

"I love looking at talent. I love evaluating talent, and I love ball. And they know that I know football players, what it's supposed to take to be a football player."

The San Francisco 49ers have no plans to release Jimmy Garoppolo despite their inability to trade him, general manager John Lynch has insisted.

No secret has been made of the Niners' plans to trade Garoppolo since their 2021 season came to an end with defeat to the Los Angeles Rams in the NFC Championship Game.

San Francisco selected quarterback Trey Lance with the third overall pick in last year's draft, having traded the 12th overall pick and their first-round picks in 2022 and 2023 to move up to that spot.

Lance is set to take over as the starting quarterback in 2022, but Lynch did not rule out Garoppolo still being on the depth chart, having received no trade offers for the former New England Patriot.

"I don't foresee that," Lynch said when asked about releasing Garoppolo at the NFL owners' meetings on Monday.

"He's too good of a player. I don't foresee that, and I think Jimmy will be playing for us or he'll be playing for somebody else. He's too good of a player not to be."

Garoppolo remains on the Niners' roster as host of potential suitors have filled their quarterback need via other means. The Denver Broncos pulled off a spectacular trade for Russell Wilson, the Indianapolis Colts shipped Carson Wentz to the Washington Commanders and then dealt for Matt Ryan, while the Pittsburgh Steelers signed Mitchell Trubisky.

There had previously been talk of the Niners having an offer of two second-round picks in hand for Garoppolo, but Lynch dismissed such speculation.

"Not true. No," Lynch said. "Nobody ever said, 'OK, here’s our offer'. We never got to that point."

While Garoppolo's future with San Francisco remains in question, Lynch assured that All-Pro wide receiver Deebo Samuel and Pro Bowl edge rusher Nick Bosa will be on the roster for a long time as the Niners negotiate likely lucrative contract extensions with the pair.

"We've had good communication with Tory [Dandy] who represents Deebo and Bryan Ayrault who represents Nick,” Lynch said. "We have a plan for each of those guys. We will keep those discussions private but like I've long said, those guys are going to be a part of us for a long, long time. 

"They're fantastic players. They are very much at the core of who we are and they are fabulous players, fabulous people and a big part of who we are.” 

It isn't clear what the San Francisco 49ers' asking price is for Jimmy Garoppolo, but interested buyers have been provided with a very good reason to go under it this offseason.

The Niners appear destined to trade Garoppolo this offseason to pave the way for Trey Lance, for whom they traded three first-round picks to acquire with the third overall selection in last year's draft, to take over as their starting quarterback.

That is despite a 2021 season that saw the 49ers reach the NFC Championship Game with Garoppolo at quarterback.

San Francisco surrendered a 17-7 fourth-quarter lead to lose 20-17 to eventual Super Bowl champions the Los Angeles Rams, the tale an all too familiar one for the Niners with Garoppolo intercepted on the final drive having proven unable to deliver victory in similar circumstances in their Super Bowl LIV loss to the Kansas City Chiefs at the end of the 2019 season.

Garoppolo's inability to elevate the 49er passing game on the biggest of stages is one reason why the Niners are set to move on from him and any teams in the market for a quarterback were given a reminder of another reason on Tuesday.

According to multiple reports, Garoppolo is set to have surgery on a shoulder he injured in the Niners' Wild Card Round win over the Dallas Cowboys and will be out of action for 16 weeks, meaning he will not be able to throw until after the start of organised team activities.

Durability, or lack thereof, has been a continued problem for Garoppolo, who has missed 25 regular-season games in his 49ers career due to injury.

And the prospect of him starting his career with a new team behind the 8-ball due to his surgery is sure to dent his value to those considering making a move for the former second-round pick.

Yet, per ESPN's Adam Schefter, there is "significant interest" in Garoppolo from multiple teams even with the prospect of him missing the start of preparations for the new season.

The Niners, minus a day-one pick in the draft, are hoping to recoup capital for Garoppolo as they look to retool the roster around Lance.

However, even if the level of interest in high, the compensation on offer to the 49ers may not be for a quarterback with injury issues and consistent problems with turnovers.

Garoppolo finished the 2021 season second in the NFL with 8.64 yards per attempt, but he also led all quarterbacks in yards after the catch per pass attempt with (6.6), illustrating his reliance on short passes and the ability of the likes of Deebo Samuel, George Kittle and Brandon Aiyuk to do damage with ball in hand.

A limited downfield thrower, Garoppolo completed just nine passes of 21 air yards or more in 2021. Only six quarterbacks (min. 200 pass attempts) averaged fewer air yards per attempt than Garoppolo's 7.38, while his pickable pass rate of 4.82 per cent was the sixth-highest in the league, according to Stats Perform data.

In other words, Garoppolo was not regularly attempting ambitious throws but put the ball in harm's way more than the vast majority of his counterparts.

Having seen San Francisco win and go deep into the postseason in each of the two full seasons in which Garoppolo was healthy, at least one team will be ready to bet they can build an offense around him to allow them to do the same. But, between his injury history, his imminent lengthy rehabilitation period and his obvious shortcomings, they might not be willing to gamble as much as the Niners are hoping for.

The rollercoaster that was the San Francisco 49ers' 2021 season was one in which calls to go with Trey Lance over Jimmy Garoppolo were frequent. However, former Niners head coach Steve Mariucci believes it will ultimately be beneficial for last year's third overall pick that Kyle Shanahan resisted those calls.

San Francisco enjoyed a turnaround to finish 10-7 after a 3-5 start to make the playoffs, where the Niners upset both the Dallas Cowboys and Green Bay Packers en route to the NFC Championship Game.

However, the 49ers let slip a 10-point fourth-quarter lead against the Los Angeles Rams in a 20-17 defeat in which Garoppolo failed to move the ball on each of the final two drives, defeat clinched with an interception on a desperate heave under pressure that will likely be the last throw of his Niners career.

Lance made two starts in relief of an injured Garoppolo but only took snaps in four games beyond those appearances, serving as a spectator for the entirety of the postseason.

With Garoppolo expected to be traded and hand the reins to Lance for 2022 and beyond, Mariucci expects the man San Francisco traded three first-round picks to acquire to be better positioned to handle the challenges he will face as a starting quarterback because of his time on the sideline.

"In some ways, Trey Lance will be a rookie again from a playing standpoint," Mariucci said at a pre-Super Bowl media event on Wednesday.

"The best thing for a player is to get on the field and play when it counts and that's in a game. The good news for him is he's had a year of sitting and watching a veteran prepare, learning the system, learning pro defenses, learning all these disguises and these crazy blitzes that he didn't see against South Dakota State, and that's a plus for him.

"He'll be more ready to do this when he gets his chance next year."

Lance was arguably the most athletically gifted quarterback in the 2021 draft class, with his abilities with his legs set to add another element to head coach Shanahan's already dynamic offense.

Referencing two quarterbacks he coached during his time with the Niners, Mariucci added: "I think the playbook is going to be a little bit different, they're going to use his legs moreso than they did Jimmy, with some zone-reads and some quarterback type runs and some movement and some keeps and some 'get em out there'.

"[It's a] little bit like when Jeff Garcia or Steve Young played, you change the launchpoint, it's all over the place, makes him more difficult to defend, and he's going to make first downs with his legs too.

"This year was beneficial for him from a learning standpoint and next year here's going to show us what he's got, I can't wait."

San Francisco 49ers quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo expects to be traded and wants to join a contender.

The 30-year-old QB's future at the 49ers has been a hot topic of speculation following the side's 20-17 NFC Championship Game defeat to the Los Angeles Rams on Sunday.

Niners head coach Kyle Shanahan declined to discuss Garoppolo's future in the aftermath of their playoffs exit, but it is widely expected Garoppolo will leave the 49ers this offseason with 2021 Draft third pick Trey Lance coming through.

Garoppolo, who has been with the 49ers since 2017, admitted he expects to leave the franchise this offseason.

"I was talking to [49ers general manager] John [Lynch] yesterday about finding the right destination and whatever the future holds, just doing it the right way," Garoppolo said during a Zoom news conference on Tuesday.

"I've got a long career ahead of me. I'm excited about it. I'm excited about the opportunities to come. I just want to go to a place where they want to win.

"That's really what I'm in this game for. I'm here to play football, win football games and as long as I've got that and good people around me, I think the rest will take care of itself."

Garoppolo reinforced his likely 49ers' exit when he signed off from the Zoom call by addressing the side's fans.

"It's been a hell of a ride," Garoppolo said. "I love you guys. See ya."

Garoppolo, who played with a torn ligament in his right thumb for the final five games of the 49ers season, threw 3,810 yards with a 68.3 per cent completing rate for 20 touchdowns and 12 interceptions this season.

"As far as the whole trade situation, John has been very clear with it," Garoppolo said. "I think they're trying to do the best for me, I'm trying to do the best for them and we're working together.

"We haven't really made too much progress on it but I think things will start happening here pretty quickly."

On his thumb injury, Garoppolo added: "If I can avoid surgery, that's really what I'm hoping for but we'll see."

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