Coach Kyle Shanahan’s comments earlier this week might not signal the end of the world, but it was impactful enough for him to express regret after the 49ers used their No. 3 overall pick Thursday night on North Dakota State quarterback Trey Lance.
“I totally bombed that on Monday,” Shanahan said. “I hated how that came off. I talked to Jimmy about it right away. I didn’t realize when I did it.”
Eric Branch of the San Francisco Chronicle on Monday asked Shanahan two questions during a video conference with Bay Area reporters. The first question was whether Shanahan could guarantee Jimmy Garoppolo would still be on the 49ers’ roster on Sunday. The other question was related to why Shanahan believes only approximately 50 percent of quarterbacks chosen among the top three picks enjoy success in the NFL.
First, Shanahan poked good-natured fun at Branch’s questions, and asked to be reminded about the first question. Then, Shanahan supplied the soundbite that got all kinds of attention — locally and nationally.
"I can't guarantee that anybody in the world will be alive Sunday, so I can't guarantee who will be on our roster on Sunday,” Shanahan said. “So that goes for all of us.”
Shanahan described Branch as a person with whom he has a relationship and “sometimes I mess with him back.”
Shanahan on Thursday admitted he made a mistake with the tone and substance of his answer in the question about Garoppolo.
He also wanted to make sure his comment was not interpreted as being disrespectful to Garoppolo, whom he said he genuinely likes and respects.
Said Shanahan, “When I said I didn’t know if we’d be alive on Sunday, I was just trying not to give my typical answer of, ‘Guys, anybody can be traded; if we get a bunch of ones, John should trade me and I shouldn’t be here on Sunday.’ That’s the answer for every person on our team."
Shanahan said he wants Garoppolo to remain with the team along with Lance.
“But Jimmy’s situation is, if he isn’t here on Sunday, I would be disappointed because Jimmy is the quarterback who has played one year and taken us to a Super Bowl and played at a very high level,” Shanahan said. “He’s had some unfortunate injuries, but I believe in Jimmy as a person and he’s shown what he can do on tape.”
It remains to be seen whether Lance will be able to compete for a starting job.
“Now, we made this move because it’s obvious with what I hope and believe in with this guy coming in, but it would be a very tough situation if Jimmy is not on our team,” Shanahan said. “I want Jimmy to be here, and I want this kid to be brought along. I want to see how he does. And if it turns into a competition, it turns into a competition. I’d be excited about that if he shows he’s ready for it.
“We’ll play that by ear, but I expect Jimmy to be here, and I’d be surprised if he wasn’t.”
Shanahan said he has remained transparent with Garoppolo throughout the entire process.
After all, the 49ers on March 26 traded up from No. 12 to No. 3 overall with the intention of selecting the quarterback who would eventually replace Garoppolo. Before news of the trade broke, Shanahan reached out to Garoppolo to inform him of the organizational decision and what it meant for Garoppolo’s future with the 49ers.
“I’m sure Jimmy was a little pissed off from it, just like I would be, too,” Shanahan said on March 29, three days after the trade. “But me knowing Jimmy, he'll be fired up and come in and he'll work his butt off. Knowing Jimmy, the more mad Jimmy gets, usually the better he gets.”