It is often said that a player’s best ability is his availability and that is what Kyle Shanahan is looking for in his quarterback.
The 49ers head coach spoke to the media on Monday and shared that his reservations about Jimmy Garoppolo are based around the signal caller’s injury history. During his three and and a half seasons with the 49ers, the Illinois native has only appeared in 31 of a possible 54 regular season contests.
Without Garoppolo on the field, the 49ers have struggled mightily. In 2018 after the quarterback suffered an ACL injury in Week 3, the club ended the season with a 4-12 record. Again, in 2020 a disappointing 6-10 showing after Garoppolo failed to return to full strength after a severe high ankle sprain sidelined him in Week 2.
“The biggest thing with Jimmy is his injuries,” Shanahan said. “It’s been very tough for us when he’s been hurt. This happened two of these three years. That’s where it starts. Jimmy knows that. I’ve been very upfront with him with everything.”
Shanahan said the relationship with Garoppolo has not been compromised after making the move to the No. 3 spot to select a quarterback in the 2021 NFL Draft. Shanahan understands that a rookie quarterback would do well to learn and watch from the veteran as opposed to being thrown into the fire from Day 1.
“We’ve been Zooming these last two weeks,” Shanahan said of Garoppolo. “Excited to get him in here coming up, especially when this draft is over, but I feel very fortunate taking a rookie quarterback that we do have a guy like Jimmy.
“We didn’t sign a guy who is capable or has the history of being a starter right away, but we have a guy, every time he’s been a starter, he’s played at a high level.”
Shanahan is expecting Garoppolo to allow the rookie, whoever that might be, to learn the 49ers extensive playbook and adjust to the speed of the NFL. In the coach’s eyes, that is a luxury not always readily available to a franchise.
On the other hand, Shanahan made it clear that Garoppolo being under center for the entire 2021 season is anything but guaranteed,
“To have that with Jimmy, while having a rookie quarterback gives us a lot of leeway into this,” Shanahan said. “I’m not going to set anything into stone but I know that’s the situation that it would be hard to get rid of.
“When you take a rookie quarterback and you take a veteran like Jimmy, who we know we can win with, just to move on from that is something that’s not easy to do. That is a good situation for us and I think that is something that will be important to us this year.”