New San Francisco 49ers quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo knew virtually none of the players on the roster when he arrived. Much of the past four days not devoted to the playbook and practice has likely involved just getting to know his teammates.
While he has few relationships, he has met 49ers head coach Kyle Shanahan before. During the lead up to the 2014 NFL Draft, Shanahan spent time with a lot of quarterback prospects in his role as offensive coordinator for the Cleveland Browns. We had previously learned he preferred Garoppolo and Derek Carr over Johnny Manziel, whom the Browns ended up drafting.
Shanahan was on KNBR Friday morning, and he talked about meeting Garoppolo during that process. Shanahan was part of the Browns contingent that went to Northwestern for Garoppolo’s Pro Day (he did it there, rather than at Eastern Illinois). They went out to dinner after the workout, spending the whole day with him. They also met at the Combine, and he was a guy Shanahan really liked.
What did he like about him? Shanahan talked about his throwing ability and his athleticism. He compared his throwing style to Tony Romo, and said he had similar traits to Mitchell Trubisky.
“I believe it starts with his throwing ability. He can get rid of the ball very quick, he can throw from a very balanced position, he doesn’t need a lot of room in the pocket. His throwing style is similar to someone like Tony Romo’s. I think his traits are very similar to Mitch Trubisky, in terms of how they throw. Jimmy is an athletic, mobile guy, too. I’m not gonna compare him mobile-y to someone like Russell, but in terms of being able to run our keepers and scramble when no one’s open, having the quick feet — not necessarily the 40 time, but the quick feet — he can do some things with his legs, too.”
It is worth noting that Jimmy Garoppolo went to Eastern Illinois, which is where Tony Romo went. That likely led to some of the comparison between the two.
This is actually the second time this year Shanahan has commented on Garoppolo. During Super Bowl media week, Shanahan was asked about the then New England Patriots backup quarterback. It was common knowledge that Shanahan was going to join the 49ers, and with their quarterback need, it made sense to ask him about Garoppolo.
“He was a very good thrower,” Shanahan said. “Tough guy, kept his eyes down the field, could get rid of the ball fast. Really liked the person. Had a chance to go out to dinner with him and stuff. He played at Eastern Illinois, and it was a different type of offense where you can’t always evaluate with how quick they get rid of the ball. But I really thought he was a very intelligent, tough player with a good throwing motion.”
Garoppolo and Shanahan will effectively be tied at the hip most of the rest of this season in terms of learning the offense. But this is also the biggest decision to date in the perception of the Shanahan/Lynch regime. They have made several decisions at the quarterback position in terms of signing some veterans, skipping a first round quarterback, and then trading up to draft C.J. Beathard. But this is the real big one at this point.
Shanahan and Lynch are not locked into Garoppolo for the duration of their tenure, but they’re betting that he is the guy they would want in that position. I don’t know if this will be the decision that is the positive or negative turning point in the Lynch/Shanahan era, but it seems like something we will look back on with great significance one way or another.