One of the less talked about advantages Jimmy Garoppolo had as a quarterback is the fact he has not just one of the greatest current offensive minds in the league whispering in his ear (Kyle Shanahan), but also one of the greatest offensive minds in league history to also whisper in his ear (Kyle Shanahan’s father, Mike Shanahan).
We’ve talked about how Garoppolo has spent time with Mike Shanahan in 2018 and how this time is invaluable. Then there was a story on the MMQB last week about Garoppolo’s spent 15 hours per week with Mike Shanahan, who flew down and lived in his son’s Bay Area home after Garoppolo’s ACL tear against the Kansas City Chiefs in Week 3 of the 2018 season. Garoppolo himself spoke on how invaluable Shanahan’s help was (from the article):
“As a quarterback, you always want to know the why, because if someone comes up to you and asks a question, you want to be able to answer it,” Garoppolo told me. “So there’s certain things, when I got traded here, they were just telling me, ‘Learn this play, you don’t need to know the whole play, just this part of it.’ And then after that was over, you get more time to break it down and everything, and Mike did a phenomenal job with that.”
And now we have Mike Shanahan himself going over what it was like to talk to the San Francisco 49ers quarterback. Mike Shanahan was at Saturday’s practice (invited by the Denver Broncos) and answered several questions about coaching. He had one one quick answer regarding tutoring Garoppolo which was filmed by Cam Inman:
“What a lot of people won’t understand, is the quarterback gets hurt, like in that second, third game then you have surgery, then you have you coach coaching the quarterbacks getting ready for the game. I had a chance to sit down with Jimmy, and maybe just talk about defenses for a couple weeks. Talk about terminology of defenses; blitz schemes, zone schemes, then go through the daily installation where he can just sit back, relax, and we can just talk football. Being part of that terminology system and obviously knowing the installation schedule, I got my chance with him I think to relax and have some fun and at the same time, get to study some football together.”
The gameday reps are important but if there’s an offense benefited with extra classroom time, it’s the Shanahans’. That playbook is one of the hardest if not the hardest to learn in the NFL and breaking down a decade worth of tape to understand the why of everything could have been a nice substitute.
We now need to see how all of this translates onto the field. Garoppolo at this point seems like that Shaolin master from those old kung-fu films. You know, the fighter who visits the best martial arts masters in the land and learns something from each of them to be the unstoppable warrior? Garoppolo has had Josh McDaniels (when Garoppolo was with the New England Patriots), Kyle Shanahan, and Mike Shanahan to groom him.
The ACL tear was a setback, and Garoppolo didn’t get those much-needed gameday reps as a result, but maybe this extra classroom work was the next best thing.
We’ll get a glimpse of all of this on Monday when the 49ers take on the Denver Broncos for their second preseason game.