Programming note: Watch the John Lynch-Kyle Shanahan introductory press conference on Thursday at 1pm on CSN Bay Area, and streaming live right here.
New 49ers coach Kyle Shanahan and general manager John Lynch have discussed the team’s quarterback situation in general terms.
But, now, it they plan to get down to business.
Colin Kaepernick, 29, started 11 games for the 49ers last season. He had his best statistical season since 2013, his first full season as a starter. But Kaepernick is expected to opt out of his contract in early-March. If he does not, the 49ers would be expected to release him to avoid being on the hook for his scheduled $14.9 million pay.
The other quarterbacks on the 49ers’ roster – Blaine Gabbert, Christian Ponder and Thad Lewis – are scheduled for unrestricted free agency.
“The answer for us is that Kyle and I are going to get together, and we’ve already discussed it, but we’re going to get together and find out exactly what he’s looking for in a quarterback,” Lynch said Tuesday during an appearance on KNBR. “And then we’re going evaluate the guys we have, we’re going to evaluate the draft, and we’re going to look hard at free agency, trades, whatever we need to do to get a guy.
“And it may not be this year. It may be that we draft and develop. We’re looking at every scenario, but we’re both big believers -- and I don’t think this is anything revolutionary -- everyone knows how important that position is. But we certainly place a huge emphasis on it and we’re going to work hard to get that right.”
During Super Bowl week, CSNBayArea.com asked Shanahan what he looks for when evaluating a quarterback.
“If you’re born to throw and it’s effortless, you can do it with ease and you don’t have to think about the throwing part because everything else is so hard,” Shanahan answered. “And if you have that, you want a guy who’s fearless. If you sit and watch the rush in this league or you’re thinking about getting hit or have any hesitation, you don’t have much of a chance. The game moves too fast and you have to keep your eyes downfield.
“And you got to have a certain amount of intelligence so that you can handle everything. But it’s not just your IQ, it’s being able to handle it under pressure and think fast and react. Once the game starts, your mind has to shut off. It’s got to be a feel and you react, usually based off the preparation you did throughout the week and your natural feel of the game.”
Shanahan said he placed a high draft grade on New England backup Jimmy Garoppolo when he evaluated the former Eastern Illinois quarterback prior to the 2014 draft. Shanahan was offensive coordinator of the Cleveland Browns at the time. The Browns selected Johnny Manziel in the first round at pick No. 22.
“He was a very good thrower,” Shanahan said of Garoppolo. “Tough guy, kept his eyes down the field, could get rid of the ball fast. Really liked the person. Had a chance to go out to dinner with him and stuff. He played at Eastern Illinois, and it was a different type of offense where you can’t always evaluate with how quick they get rid of the ball. But I really thought he was a very intelligent, tough player with a good throwing motion.”
Garoppolo could be available in a trade with the Patriots. He is entering the final year of his contract, and the Patriots would be in danger of losing him as a free agent after the 2017 season with little compensation.
The free-agent signing period and window for trades opens on March 9. The draft is seven weeks later.
Shanahan said he spends no time during the season watching college football, so he does not start to look at the draft-eligible quarterbacks until much later.
“You can’t evaluate people by watching ESPN,” Shanahan said. “You have to sit in a room and watch both copies. You got to cut it up and watch certain types of plays, certain gradable plays. It takes a long time. You don’t want to sit and evaluate 30 different guys randomly. You want to dedicate a few days to one guy, really lock in and then come back and watch it again.”