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Kyle Shanahan not making promises on when Jimmy Garoppolo will play

Jimmy Garoppolo

FILE - In this Sunday, Sept. 24, 2017 file photo, New England Patriots quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo charges onto the field before an NFL football game against the Houston Texans in Foxborough, Mass. On Monday, Oct. 30, 2017, the Patriots traded Garoppolo to the San Francisco 49ers for a 2018 draft pick. (AP Photo/Michael Dwyer, File)


49ers coach Kyle Shanahan said something at his Wednesday press conference that might make some people scratch their heads about the team’s decision to trade for quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo.

Shanahan said he “can’t promise” that Garoppolo will play before the 2017 season is over, which may seem a bit alarming since the team traded a second-round pick for him and need to make a plan for how to handle his impending free agency. It’s bit less alarming once you add in the fact that Shanahan also said he can’t promise that Garoppolo won’t play against the Cardinals this weekend and that he’s “not here to save our season” but to improve the organization.

The plan is for Garoppolo to be active as C.J. Beathard’s backup and for Garoppolo to cram as much knowledge of the offense into his head before Sunday as possible so that he’s able to do something if circumstances require his presence on the field. That study will continue beyond Sunday and the 49ers have a bye in Week 11 that would give Garoppolo more time to get things down.

That time could also allow left tackle Joe Staley to return to the lineup from an orbital fracture, something that would be helpful when it comes to keeping Garoppolo (or Beathard) upright long enough to run the plays from that playbook. And that would be helpful to the 49ers because, promises or not, seeing Garoppolo in action seems like a must before deciding if he’s getting the keys to the offense beyond this year.