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Steve Young ‘doesn’t know how’ Jimmy Garoppolo will be the 49ers QB next season

The San Francisco legend weighed in on Jimmy G’s future with the organization.

Photo by Brett Carlsen/Getty Images

Former San Francisco 49ers quarterback Steve Young knows a thing or two about being successful at the position. The Niners legend won three Super Bowl titles and two NFL MVPs during his Hall of Fame Career.

Young — who now works as an analyst with ESPN — was asked about the future of 49ers QB Jimmy Garoppolo on Monday Night Football. He didn’t hold back on why he doesn’t think Jimmy G is the long term answer at the position (h/t Jennifer Lee Chan of NBC Sports):

“This looks like a disastrous year. It creates a focus on the one question that you had about the 49ers coming into this year — can we get to a place where Kyle Shanahan, this innovative offensive coordinator, one of the best head coaches in the league, can find a quarterback that he can trust and just be expansive with, rather than protect.

“I think that’s been the issue with Jimmy, and I think that 25 million dollars and a shrinking salary cap, with this injury, I just don’t know how Jimmy ends up being the quarterback for the 49ers next year.

“It’s about the relationship between Kyle Shanahan and Jimmy. That’s what matters. They’ve created a system that Jimmy can be successful in. It’s not the system that Kyle wants to run.

“Kyle is going to be a coach there for 10 years. He will be one of the long term coaches when he’s finally done. Does he want Jimmy, to concoct an offense for or him, or does he want somebody who can actually be expansive and ‘do all the things that are in my brain rattling around,’ That’s what Kyle wants to do.”

Garoppolo is 24-9 as San Francisco’s starter after the 49ers traded for him in October of 2017. He won his first five starts with the team to close out the 2017 season and was rewarded with a five-year $137 million contract.

Unfortunately, Garoppolo tore his ACL in the third game of the 2018 season, and the Niners sputtered to a 4-12 record. He played all 16 games in 2019, helping San Francisco clinch the No. 1 seed in the NFC at 13-3.

His strongest outing last season came in the 48-46 win over the New Orleans Saints in Week 13 when he finished 26-of-35 for four touchdowns and a pick. Garoppolo was lights out in the division-clinching victory against the Seattle Seahawks in Week 17 when he didn’t have an incompletion in the second half.

Even though the 49ers rolled to blowout wins over the Minnesota Vikings and Green Bay Packers in their first two playoffs games, the questions about Garoppolo’s abilities lingered. He only attempted 27 passes and threw for a combined 208 yards as the Niners won back-to-back postseason games and made it to the Super Bowl.

Garoppolo did enough to help San Francisco take a 20-10 lead in the fourth quarter against the Kansas City Chiefs, but that’s when the wheels came off the bus. He went 3-of-11 for 36 yards and an interception over the final 15 minutes, leading critics to question if he is capable of winning a championship. Garoppolo’s 2.8 fourth quarter passer rating is the worst of any QB who started a Super Bowl since 1999. Despite coming within minutes of winning a championship, the Niners briefly entertained going after Tom Brady in the offseason before deciding to stick with Garoppolo for the 2020 season.

The 49ers could cut their losses in the offseason with no guaranteed money left on Garoppolo’s deal. If general manager John Lynch and head coach Kyle Shanahan elect to move on from the 29-year-old, the team will have a dead cap hit of $2.8 million in 2021, and $1.4 million in 2022, per Sportrac.

Garoppolo has done little to quell the criticism with his play in 2020. He was sloppy in the season-opening loss to the Arizona Cardinals before torching the New York Jets in the first half of the Week 2 win. He missed the second half after suffering a high-ankle sprain that forced him to sit out the next two games.

When he returned to the lineup in Week 5 against the Miami Dolphins, Garoppolo looked awful. His ankle wasn’t 100%, and he was pulled at half time after going 7-of-17 for 77 yards and two interceptions. Garoppolo played well enough to help San Francisco beat the Los Angeles Rams and New England Patriots before his ugly outing last week against the Seattle Seahawks.

The NFL is a “what have you done for me lately?” league. A little more than nine months after the Super Bowl loss, Garoppolo’s future with the franchise is in doubt. His inconsistency and decision-making have frustrated fans during his tenure with the 49ers. There is no doubt that his ankle has been an issue this season, but Shanahan might have seen enough that he decides it’s time to move on.

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