Kyle Shanahan Has ‘Zero Worries’ About 49ers QB

Jimmy Garoppolo and Trey Lance

Getty Kyle Shanahan isn't worried about the 49ers' QB situation.

Jimmy Garoppolo is staying put with the San Francisco 49ers, a situation that immediately raises questions about the chances of second-year man Trey Lance remaining the starting quarterback for the whole of the 2022 NFL season.

Garoppolo, who was widely expected to be traded, instead restructured his contract to stay put on Monday, August 29. He lost the starting job to Lance earlier this offseason, but Garoppolo’s pedigree is hard to ignore after he guided the 49ers to a pair of NFC Championship Games and an appearance in Super Bowl LIV.

Many have interpreted Garoppolo staying as the first sign of waning confidence in Lance, who was erratic at times during preseason. Head coach Kyle Shanahan doesn’t sound like somebody whose confidence is shaken and he’s not ready to worry about the state of his quarterback room headed into a pivotal season for a team with realistic title aspirations.


No Worries for Shanahan

Garoppolo retaining his status, at least as the backup to Lance, is an awkward look for the 49ers, especially after the former wasn’t even given access to a playbook the last few months. The situation isn’t one to fret about, according to Shanahan, per Matt Maiocco of NBC Sports Bay Area:

Shanahan may have “zero worries” about Garoppolo’s readiness, but that bravado rings hollow when the veteran didn’t put any work in during training camp. The coach acknowledged as much by saying Garoppolo taking snaps “was not an option at all.”

It wasn’t an option because Garoppolo was dangled as trade bait for the rest of the league. Yet, beyond mooted interest from the Cleveland Browns, New York Jets and Seattle Seahawks, nothing concrete ever emerged.

The 49ers didn’t appear too concerned about Garoppolo’s lukewarm market. Not when the main focus for Shanahan and his staff was getting Lance up to speed.

It appears as though the process is not far enough long for the 49ers to feel comfortable without a proven veteran behind 2021’s third-overall pick. That’s why Garoppolo’s back on a one-year contract, a deal reported by ESPN’s Adam Schefter.

Shanahan admitted the Niners “would have gone with” ‘Mr. Irrelevant’ Brock Purdy, the final player taken in this year’s draft, as the No. 2 behind Lance. Things are different now, with the spotlight sure to shine on how Lance reacts to Garoppolo still being in the building.

The early signs are good, at least according to Shanahan, who has maintained the team’s prospective starter is “great” with the decision:

The main players in this brewing drama may be all smiles now, but things will soon change if the 49ers find themselves embroiled in a quarterback controversy early in the season. That scenario would raise uncomfortable questions about the decision to trade three first-round picks for Lance a year ago, as well as about the 49ers’ handling of a young and raw signal-caller’s development.


Pressure Has Intensified on Lance

Lance has little margin for error now Garoppolo is back in the fold. It’s a lot to take on for a young player who has started just two games and is still trying to master the mechanics of his position.

Some bumps in the road are inevitable with Lance, but any setbacks can be offset by the awesome potential offered by his superior arm strength and rushing skills. That was the theory, but the Niners know they have a prime Super Bowl window they can’t afford to waste, a window perhaps more likely to be exploited if Garoppolo is running the offense.

The looming spectre of the man who used to have his job “is going to double or triple” the pressure on Lance, according to Tim Kawakami of The Athletic:

 

Pressure might be building on Lance after some shaky showings this offseason. His struggles were most obvious against the Houston Texans when he posted a miserable stat line by completing seven of 11 passes for a mere 49 yards and scrambled for a single yard.

Shanahan wished the performance “was cleaner,” but wasn’t going to “make too much out of it,” per Cam Inman of The Mercury News. That was just four days prior to the decision to bring back Garoppolo, but Kawakami believes Shanahan had doubts even before Lance floundered in Houston.

He thinks the 49ers’ staff might have begun to waver on Lance during some rough joint practices with the Minnesota Vikings:

The Niners may be smart to have starter-ready insurance for Lance, but the fact they need it at all raises doubts about the starter. Whether or not those doubts come to fruition will define how far the 49ers go this season.

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