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49ers' QB battle easy to determine if you read between lines originally appeared on NBC Sports Bayarea
SANTA CLARA — While the debate about who will be the 49ers' starting quarterback rages on outside of team headquarters, reading between the lines gives a pretty clear answer.
Throughout training camp coach Kyle Shanahan expressed his belief that Jimmy Garoppolo has had his best camp to date. The veteran quarterback has seemed more confident and his teammates have taken notice.
While Trey Lance’s arm talent, mobility and overall skill set are reasons Shanahan and general manager John Lynch were attracted to the young quarterback, it is unlikely that someone who has not played a meaningful game since October of 2020 would be able to unseat the veteran from his hold on the starting job.
It is not impossible, but it is unlikely.
Garoppolo is not a scrub. When healthy, the Eastern Illinois product helped lead the 49ers to Super Bowl LIV. Now, in only his second full offseason program with the club, (Garoppolo missed 2019 training camp while recovering from an ACL injury and 2020 to COVID restrictions) the head coach has noticed how much more confidence his quarterback has in the system.
“I think he's just had more command at this time than he has any of the other years,” Shanahan said Wednesday. “Jimmy always gets there eventually, but I think he's come in, and I think that's natural with it being his fourth or fifth year.
“He came in the middle of our first year, but I think it's a lot easier for him just knowing what's coming off my lips before it does. Knowing exactly how to spit it out, where to go. When you don't have to think and all that stuff's effortless, the semantics of play calls and the offense, I think it's a lot easier to play.”
While no two people have the same learning curve, can anyone expect Lance to have enough understanding and command of Shanahan’s offense to be the starter in Week 1? While Shanahan refuses to answer questions regarding who will be under center for the Week 1 game against the Detroit Lions, he also never said Garoppolo starting spot was in question.
The last time Shanahan gave an unwavering answer about who his starting quarterback would be, he was adamant that it was Garoppolo.
Garoppolo himself repeatedly has mentioned that he is happy where he is at in regards to his process and building chemistry within the offense. The 29-year old agrees with his head coach that he has come back with more of a “swagger” this season than before.
“It's not something that I tried to do in the offseason,” Garoppolo said Wednesday. “I’ve always had a leadership quality, I guess you could say, but I think just understanding the offense and having a better feel for where guys are, how to get guys in certain spots, calling the plays, all those little things that go into it.
“I think that it just comes with experience and that's one thing that I've noticed out here and it's paying off.”
While other select clubs may build their offense around who they have under center, Shanahan does not limit himself. While the offensive guru still puts his players in the best position to succeed, he expects an incredible understanding from all involved. However, the most important piece of the puzzle is his quarterback.
“This offense is just different,” Garoppolo said. “We've cut down some of the verbiage and things like that, which makes it easier. But it's just it's a different type of offense. It's constantly changing. We're trying new things this day and the next day we try this with it.
“There's just a lot of moving parts that you have to as a quarterback, mentally hone in on it and focus. And once you do, it becomes a lot easier.”