Kyle Shanahan says he can't promise Jimmy Garoppolo will play this season

Coaches get so deep into cliche mode sometimes, they say things that have no practical application to reality. Take Denver Broncos’ Vance Joseph saying he was excited” to have to turn to Brock Osweiler at quarterback. Nobody buys that.

That’s how we’ll approach San Francisco 49ers coach Kyle Shanahan’s comment Wednesday about newly acquired quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo that is guaranteed to get too much attention.

“I can’t promise you that he will play this year,” Shanahan said, according to Joe Fann of the team’s website.

The 49ers traded a second-round pick to the New England Patriots for Garoppolo. Garoppolo is no wide-eyed rookie; he’s in his third NFL season. Yes, it takes a while to learn an offense, but there’s no real reason he should sit for eight more games behind C.J. Beathard. That’s doubly true if the 49ers don’t win a game. No matter what Shanahan says, he’s not taking an infamous 0-16 on his résumé while watching Beathard struggle.

But it is true that the 49ers will and should look at the big picture and not rush Garoppolo into the lineup too quickly.

“We didn’t bring Jimmy here to save our season,” Shanahan said, according to Matt Maiocco of NBC Sports Bay Area. “We brought him here to improve our organization.”

The 49ers have two games before their bye week. It seems like a good bet that Garoppolo starts after the bye, no matter what Shanahan says. There’s a difference between being prudent and being way too careful. You want to get Garoppolo some experience in the offense and with his new teammates before going into the offseason. Shanahan presumably feels the same way, but coaches say weird things sometimes when trying to make a point to the media. Complicating the whole situation is Garoppolo’s impending free agency in March. Not that the 49ers can turn back now, but you’d assume they’d want to see Garoppolo on the field before giving him a long-term deal or going to the last resort of the franchise tag (if the 49ers traded a high second-round pick for Garoppolo and let him walk in free agency, just disband the franchise — not signing or tagging him in March not an option).

Also, while it’s not the first priority, the 49ers need to give their fans something to be excited about. They’re 0-8 and their new stadium regularly has empty seats. Trading for the quarterback of the future and not playing him at all in the second half seems like a good way to drown your fan base in apathy.

That’s probably not going to happen. Garoppolo will likely play this season, no matter what Shanahan was trying to sell at his news conference. It might not be this week, but it’s coming soon. And the longer the 49ers are winless, the sooner it will be.

On Monday, Oct. 30, 2017, the Patriots traded Garoppolo to the San Francisco 49ers for a 2018 draft pick. (AP Photo/Michael Dwyer, File)
On Monday, Oct. 30, 2017, the Patriots traded Garoppolo to the San Francisco 49ers for a 2018 draft pick. (AP Photo/Michael Dwyer, File)

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Frank Schwab is the editor of Shutdown Corner on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at or follow him on Twitter!