Hoyer excited to carry out Shanahan's plan: 'Most comfortable I’ve ever been'

Hoyer excited to carry out Shanahan's plan: 'Most comfortable I’ve ever been'

SANTA CLARA – The team’s most-proven offensive weapon is the reason Brian Hoyer decided on the first day of free agency to sign a two-year contract with the 49ers.

Kyle Shanahan served the past nine seasons as an offensive coordinator before the 49ers hired him as head coach. Hoyer knew Shanahan well from their season together with the Cleveland Browns in 2014.

“That was a big reason why I came here,” Hoyer said. “I knew, having played for Kyle before, how great he was piecing things together. Then, you watch him go to Atlanta and do the same thing, even to a bigger stage really, taking them all the way to the Super Bowl.

“For me it was probably the deciding factor coming out here was just to play for Kyle and knowing that his scheme and the way he game plans games, that was what I wanted to be a part of.”

Hoyer was targeted to be the 49ers’ starting quarterback. He strengthened his grip on the job throughout the offseason program and training camp. The Hoyer-led 49ers open the regular season on Sunday against the Carolina Panthers at Levi’s Stadium.

The 49ers are Hoyer’s seventh team in nine NFL seasons. But this is the first time he has entered a situation as the only reasonable option to be the starter.

“It helps Brian knowing that we believe in him,” Shanahan said during an interview for “49ers Game Plan,” which will debut Saturday at 9 p.m. on NBC Bay Area.

“He knows we believe in him. He's done a good job. We don't believe in him just because we say that. He's earned it with us. I think he's earned it with the players out there. They get to see him on the practice field every day. Players aren't just going to believe in someone just because you say he's your starting quarterback.”

Hoyer took command of his leadership role. He organized a get-together for 49ers quarterbacks and receivers for three days of work and camaraderie at Southern Methodist University in Dallas three weeks before training camp.

The 49ers might not have any Pro Bowl players at the offensive skill positions, but there appears to be plenty of options for Shanahan. Depending on the specific matchup, Shanahan could feature such players as running back Carlos Hyde, versatile fullback Kyle Juszczyk, possession receiver Pierre Garçon, speedster Marquise Goodwin or rookie slot receiver Trent Taylor.

On the practice field, Hoyer was one of the standouts of the summer, as he distributed the ball in nearly equal portions to all of his targets. His ability to throw the deep ball appears to be a great match for Shanahan’s system, which is predicated on using the run game to set up play-action passes.

“One of skills that really stands out to me is as a play-action passer,” 49ers general manager John Lynch said on the “49ers Insider Podcast.”

“The thing that I’ve been incredibly impressed with – and maybe I didn’t see on film – is how good of a deep ball thrower he is. We have a guy in Marquise Goodwin who can go get it. Aldrick Robinson can go get it; Victor Bolden is the same way. You need someone who can put it out there, and he has that in a big way. That has been a pleasant surprise.”

The future of the 49ers’ quarterback situation remains unsettled. But Hoyer gets the first opportunity to prove to Lynch and Shanahan that he is the franchise’s best long-term option – rather than investing big money in a veteran, such as Kirk Cousins, or spending a high draft pick on a quarterback.

Hoyer is not looking ahead because he is having too much enjoyment with his current situation.

“This has been the most fun I’ve ever had playing football,” Hoyer said. “It’s the most comfortable I’ve ever been. Being able to come in day one and kind of be handed the reigns and to having the control and implement the offense and do those things and get all the reps, I think it’s been huge.

“I feel really good about where we are heading into Week 1 and we’ve just got to keep improving. We’ve improved all offseason. I feel like we got better each day in training camp and we’ve got to keep that same mentality heading into the regular season.”

Kilgore: All of 49ers on same page 'for the first time in a long time'


Kilgore: All of 49ers on same page 'for the first time in a long time'

The 49ers’ coaching staff made its feelings known to center Daniel Kilgore throughout the season.

But, in the past, that would not have necessarily meant everyone in the organization had the same thoughts about Kilgore, who was scheduled to be an unrestricted free agent.

“The whole season, coaches and I had a good relationship,” Kilgore said Wednesday on conference call with Bay Area reporters. “Just talking and having one-on-ones with various coaches, I had a positive outlook for the future.

“But that’s just one thing. The coaches have an opinion of you, but then there’s also the front office. That’s two totally different things. And I think for the first time in a long time, our coaches and the front office are on the same page.”

Kilgore was working out back home in Tennessee on Wednesday when he signed a three-year contract to avoid hitting the free-agent market. Kilgore, 30, a seven-year NFL veteran, described the contract as a team-friendly deal.

The 49ers presented Kilgore with a contract offer during the season but negotiations did not get serious until just recently. While the 49ers expressed interest in retaining Kilgore, he said he did not know what the future held for him when he packed his belongings from the locker room on the day after the season ended.

“It kind of makes you nervous because in this profession, people like the younger guys,” Kilgore said. “You just never know what will happen at any time, any given day, in the NFL. So toward the end, that last day of clearing out the locker, I didn’t know if I’d be back. I didn’t know if the Niners would want me back.”

Kilgore was named the winner of the organization’s top honor for an offensive lineman. Kilgore won the Bobb McKittrick Award for best exemplifying the dedication, excellence and commitment of the long-time 49ers offensive line coach. Kilgore started all 29 games in which he appeared the past two seasons, including a career-high 16 games last season.

"I've been here seven years and I consider the Bay Area my second home,” Kilgore said. “To be able to extend my career wearing the 49ers jersey was special to me. This team is heading in the right direction, I wanted to be a part of it."

Why the 49ers did not hesitate to pay Garoppolo big money

Matt Maiocco

Why the 49ers did not hesitate to pay Garoppolo big money

When Jimmy Garoppolo signed a contract that could pay him up to $137.5 million over the next five years, he was asked what convinced him during his nine weeks with the organization that he wanted to be with the 49ers for the long term.

“I think it was a number of things,” Garoppolo said last week. “The team, the acceptance that they had of me when I first got here from the get-go, the coaching staff, Kyle and Rich. It was a very welcoming environment, and I really liked that. We had some success down the stretch, and you could see that pieces were falling into place. We've got a long way to go, but I think we're moving in the right direction.”

Kyle, of course, is head coach Kyle Shanahan. Rich Scagarello is the 49ers’ quarterbacks coach, and the person from whom Garoppolo spent the most time after arriving in Santa Clara on Oct. 31 after a trade with the New England Patriots.

Garoppolo earned $3.5 million in his first four NFL seasons. His new contract makes him the NFL’s highest-paid player, making an average of $27.5 million per season, with $48.7 million fully guaranteed.

Scangarello, appearing this week on The 49ers Insider Podcast, talked about what he learned about Garoppolo from working so closely with him to teach him Shanahan's offense. Scangarello said there is no question in his mind the money will not change Garoppolo’s approach to his work.

“That’s why it was easy for the organization and everyone to invest in somebody like Jimmy Garoppolo,” Scangarello said. “I just think that’s not the kind of person he is. If you met his family, you know where he comes from, what he’s about. His brothers, his parents, are just good, solid people people. He’s made of the right stuff and I just don’t see that affecting him in that way.

“It’s just not who he is. That’s the fun part of working with somebody like that every day. When they’re really talented and they appreciate everything and they work at it, you have a chance to be a successful organization and they can be a great player. And I don’t think those things will ever affect him.”