Kyle Shanahan said at the league meetings this offseason that he’s never going to expressly declare the team’s starting quarterback. In a recent appearance with Tim Kawakami on the TK Show podcast, he kinda did.
Kawakami: Are you going to miss us asking who your starting quarterback is every week?
Shanahan: I’m going to miss that so much. It’s actually going to be so nice. Even though I thought I answered it, but...
Kawakami: You sort of did.
Shanahan: I sort of did. I sort of did. But yeah it’s going to be very nice not having to do that this year. Had an awesome run with Jimmy, and it was great, but when you bring in a salary cap and things like that, there’s just so many tough decisions you have to make. We made it a year ago.
Jimmy gave Trey a year that I thought he needed, just to get used to this league and get his feet wet a little bit. I think our team is ready for Trey going through OTAs and I’m just pumped to get to work and provide him some practices. I know the kid has the ability, he’s made of the right stuff, he just needs the reps and he’s got to start banking those. It’s not just out there, but it’s the games, too, so I can’t wait to get started with him.
After a year of equivocation about the starting quarterback and always leaving the door open one way or the other, Kyle finally publicly closed the book on Jimmy Garoppolo and handed the reins to Trey Lance. That should quiet the constant speculation from the national media about Jimmy Garoppolo sticking around another year.
In terms of expectations for Lance, Shanahan laid out a realistic vision.
“In order to get to a certain point in this league, for all quarterbacks, you have to go through some stuff no matter who it is. That’s why I’m so excited about Trey because I know there’s going to be some good. I also know there’s going to be some bad, but I like the situation we’re putting him in where I feel we have a team that if we can stay healthy and build the team around him, I don’t think it all depends on Trey right away.
Just like Jimmy in 2019, you know he hadn’t played a lot of football. He was coming off an ACL and I knew I believed in him, but I didn’t know how he was gonna play. It took him some time to come off his injury, not to mention he hadn’t started many games in his career prior to that. As he went, he had some ups and downs. Some good times and bad times, but we played such good defense around him, we had some young receivers that made some plays, we ran the ball well, and before you knew it we were 8-0. Then he started playing really well..and our team allowed him to get to that point.
I see this going into this season very much to where Trey’s going to do a lot of good stuff, but he also hasn’t played a lot of ball. That’s why we can take him though these games and still have a chance to win each game I feel we’re in without putting him in all that stuff because he does have a defense he can rely on, he will have a running game he can rely on. I love our weapons with our receivers, our tight ends. I’m really excited about our team here to where we don’t have to go into it and just be, ‘Hey we’ll be good if our...’ I want to say rookie quarterback because it’s his first year starting, but I don’t think it’s gonna be all about Trey. I think it’s gonna be all about our team and we’re gonna allow him to move with our team. The kid’s made of the right stuff and he has the ability to do it. I hope the fans are patient with him. I think our team is gonna understand that we got the right type of guy and they’re going to see some real encouraging stuff from him early.”
An offseason of hyperbole was just washed away by a tsunami of moderation. The Niners know Lance is going to struggle at times. They’ve baked that into their calculations for his first year as a starter. While the outside world might be putting pressure on Lance to be great out of the gate, it sounds like the expectations inside the building are far more realistic.
In terms of Jimmy Garoppolo showing up at camp, Shanahan said he does expect Jimmy to report, but more to take his physical than anything else. Remember, the team needs Garoppolo to pass a physical before they can cut him without having to pay that $8.5 million injury guarantee in his contract.
“Jimmy understands what happened here over the last couple years,” Shanahan said, “This is the business part of the league. Whether it’s tomorrow, whether it’s a couple of weeks from now, whether it’s right before Week 1, I think our team will be in a good spot and I think Jimmy will be in a good spot - most likely somewhere else.”
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