Tony Dungy Offers QB Advice to 49ers HC Kyle Shanahan

Kyle Shanahan

Getty Kyle Shanahan talks on the sidelines during the 49ers' season opener on September 12.

Roll with Jimmy Garoppolo? Or ride with Trey Lance for the rest of the year if you’re the San Francisco 49ers?

The quarterback dilemma has been a hot topic in the Bay Area. But now, one Super Bowl winning head coach has offered up advice to Kyle Shanahan.

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In his Thursday, October 21, appearance on “49ers Talk,” Tony Dungy shared what he believes Shanahan should do for the remainder of the year.

“If you’re Kyle Shanahan and you really believe Jimmy Garoppolo gives you the best chance to win, you have to do that,” Dungy said.

“You owe it to your team to put the person out there that gives you the best chance to win right now. That’s no knock on Trey Lance.”

Why Dungy Believes in Jimmy G

Dungy sent the reminder that the 49ers have been successful with Jimmy G behind center.

“Jimmy Garoppolo took this team to the Super Bowl — a couple of plays from winning the Super Bowl,” Dungy explained. “They know they can win with him.”

From there, the 2016 Hall of Fame head coach who won the 2007 Super Bowl with the Indianapolis Colts compared Lance’s situation to one that mirrors the journey of other Pro Bowl or Super Bowl winning quarterbacks.

The Comparisons Dungy Points Toward

Dungy brought up what the Kansas City Chiefs and Green Bay Packers once faced when handling a similar situation to the one involving the 49ers.

“This, to me, is more like Patrick Mahomes going to Kansas City and sitting behind Alex Smith for a year or Aaron Rodgers going to Green Bay and sitting behind Brett Favre,” Dungy said.

He also went as far back as the late 90s when his good friend, the late Dennis Green, drafted a rookie QB.

“I remember in 1999, Denny Green drafted Daunte Culpepper,” Dungy recalled. “He didn’t play one snap during the year. Denny had him on the scout team the whole year. At the end of that year, he had Randall Cunningham, he had Jeff George and Brad Johnson…and Denny said ‘We’re going to get rid of all of them and Daunte is going to be ready and Daunte is going to be fine.’ Then the next year, Daunte took the league by storm.”

Culpepper went on to play in three Pro Bowls and took the Minnesota Vikings to the 2001 NFC title game.

Dungy on How the 49ers Should Approach Lance

Lance is currently dealing with a left knee sprain and will likely be a scratch for Sunday night’s game versus the Colts. As of Thursday evening, Lance was listed as a “did not practice” via the team website.

There are 49er fans who believe Lance should get thrown into the fire as the season rolls along and once the rookie from North Dakota State is healthy. But Dungy doesn’t think the 49ers should plug him back in.

“I think he’s going to be fine. But it’s way too early to make a decision on Trey Lance,” Dungy said. “The problem is, if you’re the backup, you aren’t getting the practice time, you’re not throwing with the No. 1 receivers. He needs some time to be with those No. 1 players — get into a rhythm and grow before we make a decision. It’s really about practice time and developing those skills and we’re so quick to make snap judgements. We just can’t do that.”

He is a believer that Lance will have a bright future in S.F., saying “They drafted Trey Lance for a reason. He’s going to fit this offense. He’s going to be fine. It may not be this week. It may not be four weeks from now. But down the road, he’s going to be just fine.”

But for the present, Dungy is on the Jimmy G train.

“When you have a quarterback that you know can take you to the playoffs and win, you can’t just say, ‘Oh, well, we’re going to put the rookie in because he needs to play,’” Dungy said. “You still have to play who gives you the best chance to win right now.”

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