The 49ers entered Sunday’s game against the Bears, reeling from a four-game losing streak, and teetering between a team attempting to claw its way back into a playoff chase and a team developing a quarterback for the future. Reports about more playing time for Trey Lance peppered the morning pregame shows. While the game was close at halftime, Jimmy Garoppolo and the offense eventually got into a rhythm and pulled away for the 33-22 win. In today’s 49ers in Five podcast, we looked at whether that win changes anything about the immediate future of the quarterback position.
After the game, Matt Maiocco said a non-Kyle Shanahan high-ranking 49ers official told him why Shanahan doesn’t wait to go with Trey Lance yet.
“Kyle doesn’t think all experience is good experience...The feeling was that the longer they could kind of hold off, and the longer that Jimmy Garoppolo could play winning football for the 49ers that Trey Lance could mix in. That would be the way to grow him and to get him better and to get him ready to take over as the 49ers starting quarterback. It really is a week -to-week thing.
Now there’s got to be this level of consistency. Just because we’re complimenting Jimmy Garoppolo after the win against the Bears, it, to me, it kinda cleans the slate. And now he’ll be judged, again, on what he does against the Arizona Cardinals.”
Ultimately the 49ers did win this game thanks to three straight touchdown drives in the second half. But how close did we come to seeing Garoppolo benched in his hometown? According to Grant Cohn, things got pretty heated on the sideline between coach and quarterback before the 49ers final drive of the first half:
“I’m sitting next to Kyle Posey in Chicago, and he’s brilliant,” Cohn said on his Mondays with Vish show, “He sees things I don’t see. He taps me and says, ‘Look at Kyle. Kyle has been talking to Jimmy for the last four plays. He’s not watching the game.’ So today I get more information from a source, not Kyle, saying that they heard what Kyle [Shanahan] said.
According to the source, Kyle said, ‘This is simple s**t. Can you do this?’ [Garoppolo] did play terrific, but not in the first half. I think his job was on the line right there. If he had gone three-and-out and they had gone into halftime down seven, it would have been so easy [to make a QB change].”
Trey Lance was warming up on the sideline at one point. It’s very possible that Jimmy Garoppolo was one more bad series away from getting benched. Now that the 49ers won the game, does that change? Is it wise to have Garoppolo, or any quarterback, on such a short leash?
Halfway through the season, there are still plenty of quarterback questions unanswered. With the Cardinals coming to Levi’s Stadium this week, we may finally get the clarity we’re looking for. Lance himself battled those same Cardinals in his only start but could barely manage 10 points in the game. Does the immediate future of the 49ers quarterback position come down to whether Jimmy Garoppolo can do better without JJ Watt (and possibly Kyler Murray) in the lineup?