49ers

Rams quarterback Jared Goff will make first NFL start

Rams quarterback Jared Goff will make first NFL start

THOUSAND OAKS -- Jared Goff is ready to show the Los Angeles Rams he was worth the wait.

Goff will make his NFL debut Sunday when the No. 1 pick faces the Miami Dolphins as the Rams' starting quarterback.

"I think it's time," Goff said after practice Tuesday. "I'm ready to move forward and play. I'm just going to work hard and hopefully win."

Goff watched the first nine games of his rookie season on the sideline for the Rams, who have scored an NFL-worst 15.4 points per game with one of the league's least productive offenses.

Veteran Case Keenum has started every game, passing for 2,169 yards with 11 interceptions and nine TDs.

Goff will debut in front of his home fans at the Coliseum, where Rams fans frustrated by a dismal offensive season chanted "We want Goff!" two weeks ago during a loss to Carolina.

"We're expecting him to play well and win games for us, so it's an exciting time for us," Rams coach Jeff Fisher said.

After weeks of increasing scrutiny on the offense's struggles, Fisher finally decided to see what they've got in Goff. Los Angeles couldn't score a touchdown in last weekend's 9-6 victory over the New York Jets, failing to reach the end zone for the third time in nine games.

Los Angeles traded several high draft picks to Tennessee in April to move up to draft Goff, hoping to solve years of underperformance at the NFL's most important position. The Rams also traded up to make a splash in their return to Los Angeles after a 21-year sojourn in St. Louis, where they hadn't made the playoffs since 2004 or had a winning record since 2003.

But after Goff didn't beat out Keenum for the job in the preseason, Fisher repeatedly declined to promote the rookie over the past two months even while his offense struggled on almost a weekly basis, saying he wanted Goff to be in an ideal position to succeed.

It's increasingly clear that the Rams' offense doesn't provide an optimal opportunity for any quarterback, but at least Goff will now be learning on the job.

"It wasn't a spontaneous decision," Fisher said. "It was a progression. It's a gut feel. It's not an easy thing. It takes time, and we gave it time, and it was the right decision. We're looking forward to watching him play. ... He's going to have some moments, like all young quarterbacks do, but he's going to do well."

The Rams' offense is 31st in the NFL with just 308.0 yards per game. Their passing game is ranked 25th with 225.4 yards per game, increasing in recent weeks because of Los Angeles' profound struggles running the ball.

The Coliseum crowd has been eager for a change, booing the offense and chanting for the rookie while the Rams struggled through a 13-10 loss to Carolina two weeks ago. Los Angeles couldn't score against the Panthers until midway through the fourth quarter.

The Rams then failed to reach the end zone against the Jets, but the defense carried them to their first win since early October.

Fisher had finally seen enough on the field - and from Goff in practice - to warrant the inevitable change.

"It feels like a long time since I've got out there and played," Goff said. "I'm excited to get back out there. ... I saw a lot of stuff from the sidelines, as much as you can see during games, and learned from a lot of the things Case did, good and bad. It's been a long process, I guess, trying to pick up everything and get ready for it. I think I have, and I think I've been ready for a little while. I feel good, and I feel excited."

Goff, who turned 22 last month, was a three-year starter at California in a spread offense bearing little resemblance to the Rams' more pro-style schemes. That additional learning curve persuaded the Rams to be patient, but Keenum has struggled along with the Los Angeles offense, repeatedly failing to make big plays in important situations.

The veteran has thrown eight interceptions and five TD passes over the past five games for the Rams, who endured a four-game skid before last weekend's win.

Goff will get his first shot against the Dolphins, who have the NFL's ninth-ranked passing defense with potent pass-rushers Ndamukong Suh and Cameron Wake, who have combined for 12 sacks.

Goff is the first quarterback chosen with the top pick who didn't start his team's opener since JaMarcus Russell in 2007. Since then, Matt Stafford, Sam Bradford, Cam Newton, Andrew Luck and Jameis Winston had all started their teams' first games.

Jed York has full trust in John Lynch, Kyle Shanahan despite two losing seasons

Jed York has full trust in John Lynch, Kyle Shanahan despite two losing seasons

PHOENIX – Jed York “mutually parted ways” with Jim Harbaugh after the 2014 season to begin a string of three consecutive years in which the 49ers fired their head coach.

He canned Jim Tomsula after the 2015 season, during which the 49ers won five games.

York went back to work just 12 months later. He pulled the plug on Chip Kelly’s tenure with the 49ers after a 2-14 season as part of an organizational overhaul that included the firing of general manager Trent Baalke.

Yet, things are a lot different after two losing seasons with coach Kyle Shanahan and general manager John Lynch in charge.

York is actually showing some patience.

Since York signed Shanahan and Lynch to six-year contracts in 2017, the 49ers have won just 10 games. But instead of being on the hot seat after two seasons, Shanahan and Lynch have earned even more confidence from York.

“And I wanted to send the message to them and send the message to our fans, send the message to our players on the roster and potential free agents going forward that these guys,” York said of the six-year contracts.

“We’re probably not going to get it all right in the first year, first two years, but this is something we’re going to try to build and I believe we have a very good foundation. I think the future is bright for us.”

Does York feel as good about Shanahan and Lynch now as he did the day he hired them?

“I feel even better,” York said Sunday at the NFL owners meeting.

York said he has confidence that his coach and GM will continue to work in unison to build the 49ers into a contender. He said his trust in them is borne from watching them work together to formulate their plans for free agency and the draft.

After the 2016 season, York set forth to put together a team in which there was cohesion between the head coach and general manager. The previous coach-GM tandems were often at odds.

Two rough seasons later, York is not disappointed with the Lynch-Shanahan union. He said he is pleased with the chemistry that has been formed.

“I see that in spades,” he said. “It’s just awesome to watch those guys work together.”

York said he was willing to show more patience with Shanahan and Lynch because of the decimated roster they inherited and the realization that there would be a learning period as neither man had previous experience in his respective role.

“You don’t know what you don’t know when you’re in those positions,” York said. “And I think it’s been interesting to watch these guys really come together and show they’re a stronger bond today than what they were two years ago and it’s only getting stronger.”

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York has not exactly exhibited patience during his time calling the shots with the 49ers. But he said something is different with Lynch and Shanahan.

“I have a lot of patience with these guys,” York said. “I think there are reasons we’ve had the records we’ve had the last two years. And I feel very, very good about the team those guys are putting together.”

Jimmy Garoppolo's offseason plan has included rehab, recruiting free agents

Jimmy Garoppolo's offseason plan has included rehab, recruiting free agents

PHOENIX — Quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo is embracing his role as the leader of the franchise as he looks toward the start of the 2019 season.

49ers CEO Jed York spoke at the NFL owners meeting about Garoppolo like a proud parent.

He has been keeping an eye on his quarterback’s rehab and reports that he sees Garoppolo developing into a true leader. He said the two of them chat regularly.

“I’m not going over film with Jimmy,” York said, “so I don’t think we have to worry about anything from that standpoint. I see Jimmy, whether it’s in the lunch room or if I’m down in the training room or if we’re working out.”

Garoppolo has been working out with 20 to 25 teammates at the club's Santa Clara facility, York said. He is not allowed to throw passes to teammates at the team's training complex, a team spokesman said. Garoppolo has future workouts with his teammates scheduled for the Los Angeles area.

“It’s great to see that,” York said. “The team is really, really jelling and watching them come together as a unit, that’s what you need. It’s not a collection of individuals. It’s a team.”

Garoppolo’s involvement doesn't stop there, though. 

He was very active during free agency, playing the role of recruiter by calling some players the 49ers were interested in.

“I know he called the guys who we were interested in on the first day or so of free agency and expressed his interest in getting guys here,” York said. “I’m fairly certain that he called Kwon (Alexander) during that negotiating window when you can start talking to people.”

York explained that this is a new aspect of Garoppolo’s role as the face of the franchise.

“Those are things that he wants to do,” York said. “That’s where it’s different when you come in and you’ve been a backup, now being the guy. It’s hard when you’re the guy, you’re the highest-paid player, but you’re not playing for (the) team.”

Obviously, York would have preferred to have Garoppolo on the field for the entire season in 2018, but he sees the positives that came from Garoppolo's season-ending knee injury.

“I think he was able to learn a lot of the cerebral things,” York said, “and a lot of the things that come with that leadership position over the last year, which really excites me for him going forward.”

[RELATED: 49ers were aggressive in pursuing Odell Beckham Jr.]

York said Garoppolo is ahead of schedule on his path back to the football field after sustaining a torn ACL in Week 3 against the Kansas City Chiefs. Garoppolo looks as if he has added some muscle to his frame while going through his daily rehab, York said.

“He’s just grinding every single day to get better personally and to get better as a team and understanding how important it is to do those things as a team leader,” York said.