Kyle Shanahan, Jimmy Garoppolo and the 49ers future under center

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Kyle Madson
·4 min read
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Jimmy Garoppolo is going to be the 49ers’ quarterback next season. Maybe. At least, that’s what head coach Kyle Shanahan said Monday in a video conference with reporters when asked about the team’s quarterback situation for next season.

There’s some nuance required though when breaking down Shanahan’s full thoughts on Garoppolo and how the team will proceed under center.

Let’s start with his declaration that Garoppolo will be the quarterback next year, because it’s pretty cut and dry.

“Yes, I do believe Jimmy’s going to be our quarterback next year,” Shanahan said.

He was pressed on that, and asked if he’d commit with 100 percent certainty to Garoppolo starting Week 1 next season.

His answer became a talking point on various internet forums because it backed off a commitment to Garoppolo, but it also clearly explains the club’s thought process on the quarterback position going into the offseason.

Here’s the full quote:

Guys, you can’t say anything with certainty. You don’t sit here and make promises on anything. We build a football team. It’s your job to put the best team together year in and year out. People talk about Jimmy’s salary. Jimmy is like one of the middle quarterbacks in the league right now in terms of salary. That’s just how much they cost. So, it’s not like it’s something ridiculous or anything like that, so we can work all that out. Not to mention, look at Jimmy’s record when he’s been here. Jimmy, you can win with. He’s proven that. He’s proven he’s a starting quarterback in this league. We had a couple of other guys who got opportunities this year who played like they have a chance at times to be starting quarterbacks, but they did play like backups overall. C.J. [Beathard] played like he had ability to be a starting quarterback two nights ago. He also did that in 2017 in a few games that we had with him. I remember him playing like that versus San Diego, but Jimmy, there’s a reason his record is what it is and that’s why we paid for him to be our starting quarterback. To think that that’s ridiculous with where his contract is, this isn’t like the first year. That’s how much quarterbacks costs in this league and he’s right there. I don’t know the number, but I think it’s somewhere between like 13th and 19th. So, that’s nothing too big. That’s how much they cost. Now, you look into every avenue and you see if there’s something out there that can get you a ton better it’s the same answer for every position. But look at Jimmy, look what he’s done, look at where he’s at with us financially and we better have a very good answer if you’re going to find something better than that, because Jimmy’s shown in one year that he’s a guy who can take us to the Super Bowl and I also think Jimmy’s going to get a lot better the more he plays.

There’s no smoke and mirrors.

There’s no driving up trade value.

There’s no hidden agenda or commitment either direction.

Stripping this answer down to its core whittles it down to this: the 49ers believe they can win with Garoppolo, but they’ll move on from him if they think they can upgrade.

They’re not simply going to cut him because they can save $24.1 million on his scheduled $26.9 million cap hit. Doing so to get worse at quarterback is bad team-building.

On the other hand, keeping a worse quarterback for the sake of keeping him is also bad team-building.

Going into the 2021 offseason, Shanahan believes Garoppolo is the best option available to them. Perhaps a trade for a veteran materializes, or there’s a surprise cut at which point they’ll evaluate whether that presents an upgrade over what they have. If it does, they’ll make a move. If it doesn’t, they won’t.

It’s logical and should probably be how the club operates at every position. Expressing confidence in their current players while also being flexible enough to search for potentially better options isn’t the coach trying to put one over on fans, it’s just good roster management.