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Kyle Shanahan: ‘We have a starting quarterback’

The 49ers’ head coach said the team will look into the position with both backups slated to become unrestricted free agents.

Photo by Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images

Now that the 2020 NFL regular season is over, the focus shifts on what should be a busy offseason for the San Francisco 49ers.

Head coach Kyle Shanahan and general John Lynch will have some tough decisions to make with 38 players up for new contracts, including backup quarterbacks C.J. Beathard and Nick Mullens.

The status of starter Jimmy Garoppolo going into the 2021 season has been a hot topic recently. The 29-year-old’s cap hit is slated to be just over $26 million next season, but the team could move on from Garoppolo with a minimal financial impact.

That doesn’t look like it’s going to happen based on Shanahan’s comments at his and Lynch’s season-ending media availability.

“We have a starting quarterback, but in order to know where these guys are going to be, we’ve got to get either resign the guys we’ve got or see if we can upgrade them through the draft or free agency. In order to do that, you have to evaluate everything, so you know how to stack them and stuff. So, definitely will be looking at a lot more of that stuff this year than we did last year.”

With Garoppolo missing most of the season due to injuries, we saw what Mullens and Beathard bring to the table. Neither quarterback showed that they could consistently make enough plays to win games and most likely won’t be back with the team in 2021.

Garoppolo’s durability has come into question after missing 23 games over the past three seasons, so adding a veteran option behind him makes sense if Shanahan and Lynch plan on keeping him around next season.

(You can hear from Jimmy Garoppolo and John Lynch about the future in today’s Stats & Eggs podcast in the player below)

The Niners went 3-3 in games Garoppolo started this season, and he was pulled from three of them due to injuries. San Francisco has won 22 out of 30 games that Jimmy G has started since acquiring him in 2017.

Garoppolo’s critics point to the fact that he only had 27 total pass attempts over the two playoff games against the Minnesota Vikings and Green Bay Packers in 2019 as a reason why Shanahan doesn’t have confidence in the quarterback.

But looking back at the 2019 regular season, Shanahan showed plenty of trust in Garoppolo in games the team had to win to secure the No. 1 seed in the NFC.

When the 49ers played the Packers in Week 12 of the 2019 season, Garoppolo completed 14-of-20 passes for 253 yards, two touchdowns and no picks.

Against the New Orleans Saints, Garoppolo went 26-of-35 for 349 yards, four touchdowns and a pick. Then, in the 2019 regular season finale against the Seattle Seahawks (a game that decided not only the division but also home-field advantage), Garoppolo went 18-of-22 for 28 for 285 yards with no turnovers and a 118.7 rating.

Running the ball down the throats of Minnesota and Green Bay worked perfectly, so Shanahan had no reason not to stick with it. Garoppolo’s fourth quarter performance in the Super Bowl wasn’t good, but neither was the rest of the squad’s. The defense gave up 190 total yards on three touchdown drives over the final 15 minutes.

Garoppolo has his flaws and no one will mistake him for being a top-five quarterback in the NFL, but he has also proven he can be one of the leaders on a dominant team. The injury concerns are valid, and if he can’t stay on the field next season then it would make sense to move on from him before the 2022 campaign.

Anything can happen between now and the start of training camp, but for now, it looks like Shanahan and Lynch plan on bringing Garoppolo back.

“I want Jimmy back in our core, good thing he’s not a free agent,” Shanahan said. “Of course I want our starting quarterback back and all our other starting players, too.”