Still confused why the 49ers kept Jimmy Garoppolo on a reworked deal? Don’t be — at least that was the message delivered by head coach Kyle Shanahan on Tuesday.
Shanahan painted a picture of the 49ers’ biggest QB move this preseason as being something of a no-brainer, even if he didn’t think it was possible that long ago. “This was (a case of), ‘Oh my God, Jimmy Garoppolo’s available as a backup quarterback,'” Shanahan said. “‘And that makes sense for him and makes sense for us. What else is there to think about?'”
In bringing back Garoppolo on a reduced salary, the 49ers were able to avoid taking a big financial hit for nothing in return. Now, they have a quarterback returning who has started 45 games for the club and helped lead it to a Super Bowl appearance and an NFC title game in the past three years. That’s insurance that’s hard to buy in this league.
“We have a starting quarterback as a backup,” Shanahan said. “The rest of the league had a chance to get him, and I feel so fortunate that they didn’t.
“There’s no way that’s bad for our team.”
The starter, of course, is Trey Lance — and Shanahan re-emphasized that point just in case anyone was wondering. He added that Garoppolo is the team’s QB2 heading into the Week 1 game at the Chicago Bears.
Prior to San Francisco’s final preseason game, the projections for Lance were overwhelmingly positive. Yet Lance and the first-team offense doing little of note against the Texans in the preseason finale — coupled with Garoppolo returning a few days later — led to questions about whether the 49ers quietly are concerned with their 22-year-old starter.
Fear not. Shanahan doubled down on his belief that the 49ers will enjoy bountiful riches at the position.
“There aren’t 32 starting quarterbacks in the NFL,” Shanahan said, “and we believe we have two of them.”
Some also speculated that there might be tension between Lance and Garoppolo in this arrangement. Another potential issue that Shanahan was happy to shoot down.
“When I told Trey that Jimmy’s coming back, he said ‘Awesome,’ ” Shanahan said. “There was no relationship to mend.”
And the hand-wringing over Garoppolo not having a playbook while he continues to work back from offseason shoulder surgery? Shanahan took the opportunity to downplay the idea with a dash of humor.
“We have zero worries about him not having a playbook,” Shanahan said. “I don’t have one either.”
Shanahan was asked why they tried to trade Garoppolo if he was such an asset. The coach then threw some shade at the league’s other 31 teams for their inertia.
“The rest of the league had a chance to get him,” Shanahan said.
But Shanahan also mentioned that he wasn’t sure this dream scenario would unfold the way it did. There were doubts, naturally, that Garoppolo would accept the situation that unfolded. Those doubts lingered, Shanahan said, until very recently — really until the past few weeks, and even days.
Prior to that, the 49ers appeared a bit antsy about their backup QB spot. Nate Sudfeld and seventh-round pick Brock Purdy were battling for that spot, but neither rated as the most appealing option for a team that harbors Super Bowl dreams. Shanahan said that Purdy beat out Sudfeld, and the Plan B was to go with Purdy as the backup. (Sudfeld was among the team’s cuts on Tuesday.) That plan obviously changed once keeping Garoppolo became a reality. It might read as an indictment on Purdy, but realistically, having the least-experienced QB room in the NFL loomed large for a team with such expectations this season.
That’s the how and the why, at least as far as Shanahan is concerned. Whether it works out ideally for all parties remains to be seen. But it’s hard not to view this far more as a major victory for San Francisco — even while Garoppolo’s patience is tested — than as a concern for Lance in what could be a big season out west.
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