Jeff Garcia

Jeff Garcia, Donte Whitner disagree on NFL players requesting trades

Jeff Garcia, Donte Whitner disagree on NFL players requesting trades

The NFL is seeing a change of player empowerment shift before their eyes, in real time, during the regular season. 

Defensive back Minkah Fitzpatrick, who was drafted just last year, already has gone from the tanking Dolphins to the Steelers after requesting a trade after Week 1. Fellow defensive back Jalen Ramsey, a two-time Pro Bowl cornerback at only 24 years old, also has requested to be traded from the Jaguars after being seen in a heated argument with head coach Doug Marrone. 

Ramsey requested the trade prior to Jacksonville's matchup with the Titans on Thursday, but he still played in the game despite making it known he wants the Jaguars to move him. 

Former 49ers turned NBC Sports Bay Area analysts, Jeff Garcia and Donte Whitner, played in a time when you hardly ever saw a trade request come to fruition during the season, and be so publicly known. The two also differ with their feelings on these players requesting trades. 

To Garcia, this a generational issue that isn't going to get any better. 

"I don't like it," Garcia said Sunday on 49ers Pregame Live. "I don't like the direction that the league is going right now with the players requesting [trades]. It's the new age of how kids grow up. We see it at high school levels, where you're not the starter, you're not the star that you thought you were going to be, so I'm going to leave this high school and I'm going to another high school.

"Well, now you see that being carried over into collegiate football with guys changing programs all the time, and they've made it easier to do so. And now at the NFL level, it's like a domino effect. I really don't like it. I think guys need to learn or be forced to battle through certain situations." 

Whitner dealt with a situation during his 11-year NFL career that makes him have much different feelings. 

"I have to disagree with Jeff because I'm all about individualism," Whitner responded. "I'm all about the business side of football, and these teams will cut you and put you on the street without a notice like they did me. The Cleveland Browns did me dirty. What they did was, they cut me so late that other teams already filled their roster up. So who's decision is it to do that so late?

"If you're going to let me go, let me go early so I can get on with another team. Don't wait to the last day to cut me so I can't sign with another team. So it's all about the players taking their onus on their careers, understanding what's best for them, what's best for their career and what team, what system, what defense might be best for them, like the NBA does it.

"The players run the NBA. The NFL players are trying to get to that level where they can have some type of ... more control over their career."

[RELATED: Watch Shanahan's speech after 49ers' win over Steelers]

There are two sides to this argument, and they're not going away. Ramsey likely will get traded soon, and he won't be the last superstar to for a way out of his current situation.

How Jimmy Garoppolo finding early rhythm paved way for 49ers' win

How Jimmy Garoppolo finding early rhythm paved way for 49ers' win

What a difference one week can do. For Jimmy Garoppolo, the 49ers quarterback looked like a completely different player in Sunday's 41-17 blowout win over the Bengals. 

Coach Kyle Shanahan had Garoppolo in a groove right away. The QB completed four of his five pass attempts over the 49ers' first two drives, and each ended in a Garoppolo touchdown. Jimmy G connected with wide receiver Marquise Goodwin for his first TD and dumped a screen pass to running back Raheem Mostert for San Francisco's second score. 

Former 49ers quarterback and current NBC Sports Bay Area analyst Jeff Garcia noticed a much improved version of Garoppolo right from the get-go.

"First of all, he got into a rhythm early," Garcia said in an interview with NBC Sports Bay Area. "He made a big throw for a touchdown on kind of a special-developing route to Goodwin. I think any time you're able to connect on those type of throws or have those type of plays, it creates confidence.

"I think for the most part, his rhythm and just getting the ball out of his hands was excellent today."

Garoppolo -- who completed 17 of his 25 pass attempts for 297 yards, three touchdowns and an interception -- also was on his feet all game long. While the 49ers sacked Bengals quarterback Andy Dalton four times, Garoppolo wasn't sacked once. 

But Garoppolo and the rest of the 49ers' offense will be without a key cog for multiple weeks. Six-time Pro Bowl left tackle Joe Staley broke his left fibula, but he will not need season-ending surgery and says he should be back in six to eight weeks. 

"Joe is a leader on that offensive line," Garcia said. "He's a savvy veteran. He's so good at protecting the backside. He's dependable. You have a guy like that on your left side protecting the edge, you gain trust. That's huge for Jimmy." 

Justin Skule, the 49ers' sixth-round pick from the 2019 NFL Draft, replaced Staley. Skule has suited up in two NFL games, Staley has 176 regular-season games under his belt. 

Not only will Garoppolo miss Staley, the 49ers' stable of running backs will as well. San Francisco racked up 572 total yards against the Bengals, with 259 coming on the ground. Matt Breida led the way with 121 yards on 12 carries, but backups Raheem Mostert and Jeff Wilson Jr. combined to score three touchdowns. 

Garcia believes the running game played a key role in Garoppolo's big day. 

"When you have a running game, that's what creates your opportiunity through play action and movement and moving in the pocket," Garcia said. "I think they really kept Cincinnati off guard today. From a defensive standpoint, they didn't know what's coming at them, what's hitting them."

After two games, the one thing Garcia still is looking for from the 49ers' offense is a true No. 1 receiver. Dante Pettis continues to disappoint and didn't register one reception Sunday. Goodwin is there to take the top off the defense but is a role player. 

A rookie, though, already has caught Garcia's attention. 

"Somebody needs to step into that role, and I think I see a lot of good things out of Deebo Samuel," Garcia said. 

Samuel led the 49ers with five receptions and 87 yards. The second-round draft pick also caught his first career touchdown. And while there might not be a traditional top dog at receiver for the 49ers, Garoppolo showed trust in the group and eight different players hauled in a catch against the Bengals defense. 

[RELATED: Garcia sees Staley's recovery taking longer than 8 weeks]

"Jimmy did a great job of spreading the wealth, spreading the ball around today," Garcia said. "... Outside of one throw -- the interception -- which was really just a poor decision forced into coverage, he was excellent with the football." 

Garoppolo will show signs of rust at times after tearing his ACL in the third game last season, but he also showed why he could be the one to finally lead the 49ers back to the playoffs.

Jeff Garcia, like Joe Staley, broke fibula, explains recovery timeline

Jeff Garcia, like Joe Staley, broke fibula, explains recovery timeline

The 49ers won the battle. It remains to be seen if they lost the war.

San Francisco earned its second consecutive road win with a dominant 41-17 decision Sunday in Cincinnati. The 49ers are 2-0 for the first time since 2012, and yet, the postgame locker room wasn't as joyous as one naturally would expect.

That's because stalwart left tackle Joe Staley suffered a broken left fibula, which he says will keep him out the next six to eight weeks.

NBC Sports Bay Area's Jeff Garcia knows a thing or two about a broken fibula, having suffered the same injury in a 2005 preseason game with the Detroit Lions, and he revealed on 49ers Postgame Live following the victory that Staley's true recovery time might, in fact, be considerably longer.

"It took me a good eight weeks of just recovering, healing, when I thought I could step back out on the field, and I rushed it." Garcia recalled. "I was in a hurry to get back on the field, be the quarterback for the team, be a leader on the field and do what I'm supposed to be doing. But that being said, when I got out there, I was not nearly 100-percent. I ended up hurting it again and forced myself off the field once again."

A broken fibula is tough enough for any football player to recover from, but Garcia argues it's an even taller task for someone at Staley's position.

"Granted, we all have to play through injury," Garcia continued. "We all have to play through pain. But when your legs are your survival, especially at the left tackle position -- being able to plant and being able to utilize that leg to stop the rush, to adjust to the rush, the speed coming off the edge -- that's a major thing. And you're talking about a 300-pound man, now, on a broken fibula. So, we're hoping that it can heal within that eight-week period time, but that's really just getting back to, 'OK, I can jog now. I can do some things that are more physically active.' That doesn't mean you can step on the field and play against some All-Pros coming off the edge."

[RELATED: What we learned about 49ers in Week 2 road win over Bengals]

Eight weeks from Sunday would be the day before the 49ers' Week 11 home game against the Seattle Seahawks and newly acquired edge rusher Jadeveon Clowney. Even if Staley indeed returns at or before that date, it seems unlikely he'll be in top shape for what looks increasingly like a crucial NFC West rivalry game.