The San Francisco 49ers decision to trade for quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo came at an interesting time. The 49ers are scuffling along at 0-8, and you rarely see a team acquire a potential franchise quarterback midway through a season. There is no guarantee Garoppolo will pan out, but the 49ers are moving forward with the hope that he can turn into that guy.
The 49ers have a lot to build towards this season and beyond, and head coach Kyle Shanahan made it clear on Wednesday that the team will not rush this. He talked about he and quarterbacks Rich Scangarello taking their time to help him learn the playbook, and get into a position for success.
Odds seem pretty good that Garoppolo plays this season, but Shanahan would not promise anything. He said, “We didn't bring Jimmy here to save our season. We brought him here to improve our organization.” Later, Shanahan said he could not promise that Garoppolo would NOT play this, but also he could not promise that Garoppolo WOULD play this year.
People have jumped on the latter line as though it’s a big deal. I would be surprised if the 49ers did not give him a single snap with the offense in a game this season. The offensive line is a mess right now, so it makes sense to wait on that. It was inconsistent before the injuries but if they can get a healthy Joe Staley and Trent Brown back at the two tackle positions, it’s not exactly the worst line. It’s got problems, but it’s good enough that I don’t think a good quarterback will get killed behind it.
There is a big picture to consider in all this. They all offered up the “week-to-week” cliches in Tuesday’s press conference, and it sounds like contract extension talks have not begun, or at least have not gotten too intense yet. But he’s the guy they want to be their long-term answer. You don’t want him to get killed with a shaky offensive line and some question marks at the skill positions. This is all about getting him ready with the playbook, and figuring out the optimal time to get him ready.