Last week, San Francisco 49ers general manager John Lynch made an appearance on ESPN’s morning show, Golic and Wingo, and made a notable comment about the team’s quarterback search. Specifically, he talked about how head coach Kyle Shanahan as kind of in mourning after the Jimmy Garoppolo trade because it meant the end of his previous dream of reuniting with Kirk Cousins.
“We made the trade, but then there were some days when Kyle Shanahan was, like, in mourning, because I think everybody knows his master plan was to have Kirk Cousins come in eventually,”
On Monday, Lynch wanted to offer a little more context ot his comments. Lynch said that he and Shanahan have been elated about Jimmy Garoppolo since he became an option to come to Santa Clara — especially after being told ‘no’ more than once by the Patriots.
At the NFL annual meetings Lynch clarified what he meant by the statement. There was never any bit of regret or sadness that Garoppolo came to Santa Clara instead of Cousins.
I was speaking more to Jimmy really earning the respect of Kyle myself and everybody involved. When I say “mourning,” really that day was like Christmas to us. Jimmy was a guy that we had coveted. We had done a lot of work on him during the off-season and we had attempted to make a deal and it was rebuffed on a couple of occasions, so shoot, when that opportunity fell into our lap it was like Christmas.
Lynch and Shanahan knew they needed to get the quarterback position ‘right’ and it wasn't necessarily going to be an easy decision. If Cousins were to become available he would have been the obvious first choice having a history with Shanahan and his system. That, however, was not the case. But still the door wasn’t shut on Cousins until Garoppolo did what all players on the 49ers roster had to do: he had to earn it.
While Garoppolo earned his right to become the franchise quarterback of the 49ers, Cousins wasn't the only name mentioned, Lynch confirmed that there were several others tossed around. They believed that Garoppolo had the qualities to be with the 49ers long term but there were no promises given. There was no time table to get him on the field to see what he could do, but they obviously wanted to see what they had in him.
I think the thing that impressed me so much was he just kept earning our respect, day in, day out by the way he responded in the building, by the way he conducted himself around his teammates, by the way he played. I mean, that was obvious. He earned the right, not only to become our starter, but he earned the right for this contract that we gave him and we were happy to do it.
We had a tremendous opportunity fall into our lap. We were giving each other high fives and chest bumps! There were so many conversations that had gone into what we were going to do at that position. We had no assurances on anything and then this opportunity presented itself and we were thrilled. It didn’t take long, 10 minutes may be a stretch, we were pretty convicted right away.
Lynch and Shanahan were not only impressed by Garoppolo’s physical abilities. They were impressed by his tackling the ‘monumental challenge’ of digesting Shanahan’s play book mid-season. Garoppolo started in his home town of Chicago in the 12th game of the season and really, the rest is history — and a happy one at that.