The San Francisco 49ers are holding their first organized team activities of the offseason, and all eyes are focused on the quarterback situation.
Despite winning 72.7 percent of his starts since joining the team, Jimmy Garoppolo’s future with the team remains up in the air. The Niners traded up to get the No. 3 overall selection in the 2021 NFL Draft and picked North Dakota State QB Trey Lance.
The move signified that general manager John Lynch and head coach Kyle Shanahan didn’t believe Garoppolo is the long-term answer at the most important position in the game. The concerns about Garoppolo’s health are valid, given that he has missed 23 starts in the last three seasons. Both times Jimmy G missed a significant portion of the schedule, the 49ers’ season cratered.
But Lynch and Shanahan have remained steadfast that they intend on keeping Garoppolo for at least the 2021 season. Garoppolo also knows that he has to perform at a high level to keep the starting job because if Lance outplays him at training camp, Jimmy G will likely lose his spot to the rookie.
For his part, Garoppolo has said all of the right things publically since the trade with the Miami Dolphins was finalized. Garoppolo held his first media availability since San Francisco selected Lance and touched on several subjects, including how he felt after the trade, his health and what it has been like working with Lance.
*Transcript courtesy of the 49ers’ communications team.
Tell me about what your mindset has been since the phone call you received on that Friday through the month leading up to the draft, the selection of QB Trey Lance. What have you tried to really focus in on as you prepare for the season?
“I just focused on the same things I always have, really. The offseason is the time for me to grow, for our team to grow. You try to improve on the things that you didn’t do so well the year before. This offseason, I had a list of things that I wanted to improve on. First of all, get the body back right, healthy and everything. It’s been going really well. Body feels great. There are some little things throughout the offense that we’ve been trying to work on and I’ve been trying to critique myself as hard as I can and just fix the little things.”
Can you share with us a little more about what you’ve been doing the last five months to get your body in shape, where you’ve been doing it? Maybe anything specific of what you’ve been working on?
“I think getting the ankle right, doing mobility, things like that, trying to keep the muscles pliable and staying hydrated. All that stuff applies. I think really, it’s just getting the fundamentals down and playing within the offense. When I play within the offense, things are good and things go well and I stay healthy. So that’s a big part of the offseason.”
Was it a goal to add some muscle this offseason, and did you bulk up a bit?
“I was trying to, yeah. Nothing crazy, but I’m just trying to, like I said before, it was just another thing that I was trying to do this offseason. Just stay healthy this year and put myself in the best situation possible to be successful.”
When we first talked to head coach Kyle Shanahan after the trade was made, he said he called you and that you were understandably pissed. That you weren’t thrilled about it. Can you take us back to what your emotions were like? Was there ever a time where you considered asking for a trade or anything like that or in the ensuing time after that?
“When it initially happened, there’s a million emotions that go on throughout your head and you think of all the possible scenarios and things like that. But at the end of the day, I want to play football. I want to go out there and win games. That’s what I do. It wasn’t anything too crazy. It took a little while to process everything. But once I did, it was just, go out there and ball. You’ve just got to attack it. NFL is a crazy business, things happen, but you’ve just got to attack it day-by-day and make the best of it.”
How would you describe the dynamic between you and Trey? Obviously, the shoe was on the other foot when you were in New England. Is that a situation that you think about sometimes when you look forward and how you’re going to approach this next year or two?
“Trey’s real cool. We’ve had a great relationship so far. All the QBs, we’ve got a big QB room right now. It’s a good group of guys, fun to be around. It’s kind of one of those things, I don’t want to do anything out of the ordinary, do something that’s not me. So, I just try to treat it like I normally would with anyone else. I just go about my business, just be myself and let the cards fall as they may, or chips fall as they may.”
I don’t want to beat this to death, but just spelling this out, they’ve drafted a guy. They want to replace you probably sooner rather than later, given their investment. They’ve talked about that they’ve looked into trading you. I assume, how could you not have hard feelings, and how do you reconcile that with like, ‘I’m still here, and maybe if I play my very best, they won’t be able to do what they want to do?
“If you start thinking about all of those things, especially as a quarterback, you’re going to be in some trouble. I’ve got enough things to worry about just with the offense and things like that, trying to improve things here and there. At the end of the day, we’re playing football. That’s what I love to do. I love to go out there and be with the guys, win football games. That’s what I do. It’s one of those things that the situation is what it is. It’s not changing. You just try to make the best of it. The way I do that, I attack each day and just try to put my best foot forward.”
A slightly awkward question given all the understandable previous questions, but what do you think of Trey? As a guy, as a quarterback, being around him, what’s he been like, and what are your impressions of him?
“Trey’s been cool. He has. The whole QB room is really good. It’s a good group of guys. We’re pretty deep this year, brought [quarterbacks coach Rich Scangarello] Scang back as the QB coach, happy to see him again. It’s a great group we’ve got in there. We’re tight group. Everyone’s been competing so far. It’s been a lot fun.”
Trey shared with everybody that you were one of the first people to reach out to him after he was drafted. Why was that important for you to do?
“For a number of reasons. I think, one, when you get drafted, I went through the whole process of being there, it’s a unique experience and just a crazy night. All the emotions. You’ve worked so hard to get to that point, and now you’re there getting drafted. So, I just wanted to tell him congratulations. You’ve worked hard to get here and everything and just start off on the right foot. It’s not every day you get drafted to the NFL, so I hope he enjoyed it.”
Two questions. First, how’s your ankle? Is it 100 percent healthy? Two, I noticed you weren’t wearing a knee brace. Are you done with that? Are you going to wear that during games?
“Ankle feels great. It really hasn’t been a bother since, I don’t know. I can’t remember when. The knee brace, though, that’s just kind of one of those things that will come and go. I don’t mean to keep throwing you guys off with that. But, yeah, that’s about it.”
How much of a relief is it to have some sort of sense of normalcy after not a normal offseason, not a normal season to just be back out there with OTAs?
“It’s been awesome. It really has just getting back into a rhythm with the guys, seeing everyone here. I was thrilled to see all the guys come back. We’ve been putting in some good work. It’s just different. Last year with the whole quarantine and everything that happened last year, it was a tough offseason. So, it’s nice to get back to a little bit of normalcy like you said and just to be around the guys again.”
Just wondering with your experience in New England, are there things you’ll take away from that experience and you bring to this situation here that you liked what happened and maybe didn’t like, so you don’t repeat those mistakes, or you use that to kind of further the relationship with Trey?
“To be honest, I haven’t put that much thought into it. The relationship between me and Trey, I think it’ll just happen naturally. It’s not something that you want to force too much. You don’t want to make it fake. Things will happen and that stuff takes time. But, I think it’s one of those situations where you don’t want to go out of your normalcy and do something that’s not you. I just let things happen and take it from there.”
You’ve been critiqued quite a bit over the last few months, and the main critique always seems to be, ‘He has trouble staying healthy,’ which doesn’t seem like something you always have control over. I’m just wondering how you react to that, and do you bristle when you hear that or read that? What’s your reaction?
“Being in the NFL for as long as I have, you kind of get used to it, I guess you could say. It kind of comes with the job. It’s of those things that keeps pushing you, though, when you hear those critiques and you hear those little things out there. It pushes you to take your game to the next level. We’re all competitors out there. We all want to go put in a perfect game. At the end of the day, that’s what we’re trying to do. I’m going to keep pushing myself.”
Over these last couple of months, have you heard from other quarterbacks that have been in kind of a similar situation as you? Maybe someone that’s either come in or had another quarterback come in, whether it’s Tampa Bay Buccaneers QB Tom Brady or former New Orleans Saints QB Drew Brees or former Washington Football Team QB Alex Smith or even former San Francisco 49ers QB Steve Young? Has anyone reached out? Have you gotten any advice from any other QBs?
“I kind of missed half your question there, but no, no one. I haven’t really reached out to anyone. It was kind of like I was saying before, I don’t want to make it a weird relationship between me and Trey. I don’t want to do something that’s not me. I just want it to happen naturally and it has been. Trey’s a cool dude. We’ve hung out a couple of times and it’s one of those relationships that it’ll come over time. It just takes a little time.”