San Francisco 49ers general manager John Lynch and head coach Kyle Shanahan just finished up their media availability and spoke for a little under 45 minutes. As one might expect, the conversation centered around the quarterback position. I think we might have gotten three questions that weren’t centered around QB.
Lynch does a great job of mentioning the other names involved in the Niners’ front office. When discussing the free agents the team retained, Lynch named dropped a handful of people from Paraag Marathe to Brian Hampton to even Denise York. It may not seem like much, but the folks working behind the scenes rarely get the credit they deserve, so it’s nice for the GM to give each person a shoutout.
One of the messages that Lynch and Shanahan sent to the media, including to Jimmy Garoppolo, is that free agency went a lot better than the team had initially hoped. By retaining more players than expected, the 49ers brass felt more comfortable moving up to No. 3, where they would select a QB.
Kyle said that he called Garoppolo before the trade was announced. Garoppolo wasn’t thrilled and was “probably pissed off,” but handled it great:
“I told him how excited I was that free agency was going a lot better than anticipated, we were able to sign a lot more of our own players than we thought going into it. We still plan on him leading us and getting as far as we can with him.”
Each time Lynch or Shanahan mentioned Jimmy’s name, they were quick to add in something along the lines of “he’s our guy” or “he’ll be back.” It sounded more like, “he’s our QB until he’s not.” That didn’t prevent Shanahan from backing Jimmy:
“It’s going to be hard to find a quarterback that gives us a better chance to win than Jimmy right now… that includes a rookie quarterback.”
The plan appears to be to continue to drum up interest. Shanahan went as far as to say that Lynch would trade him if the offer were good enough. This is pretty simple: you don’t give up what San Francisco gave up in the modern-day NFL to keep the incumbent starter.
Before you reference the Mahomes/Smith dynamic, Shanahan shot that down as well, saying the situations are different and every situation is different. Kyle gave a sales pitch, it felt like. Shanahan said Garoppolo has untapped potential and that Jimmy has only played one year, so he’ll only get better. But the team can’t be in a situation that happened in two of the past three years, which led to this:
“It’s very hard to succeed when your starting quarterback doesn’t stay healthy, or when you don’t have one.”
Shanahan talked about how there are very few QBs in this league that can win a game by themselves. He expanded on that and said part of the reason to move up to No. 3 was to find a physically gifted quarterback who “can be one of the 10 excellent ones in the future.” This move is not just for 2021 but for the next four years as well.
The idea to trade up didn’t come out of anywhere. Lynch said initial conversations to move up started in early March. For who, though? Shanahan poured water on the flames that he’s looking for a Kirk Cousins type of QB:
“I think it’s pretty easy to say that, but I also love Kirk. I would have loved to have Kirk until Jimmy came along. If you’re going to draw it up, you’re going to draw up the biggest, fastest, strongest quarterback.”
Shanahan mentioned that he only played a few games with Kirk in Washington before everyone got fired. Essentially, he’s tired of being paired with a QB who he’s barely worked with.
We covered how Shanahan will attend Alabama’s pro day instead of Ohio State’s to see Justin Fields. Kyle said that he confirmed with Fields’ agent David Mulugheta that his camp would set up another pro day/throwing session for Shanahan to see Fields throw live. Kyle said there is plenty of tapes to go off for Fields, and he expects him to “throw it really good in person and be really fast.”
Kyle seemed giddy at the thought of getting his hands on a franchise QB. This is me reading the tea leaves, but a player like Mac Jones doesn’t move the needle like Fields or Trey Lance. He said, “there’s a risk any season you go into without a top-five QB.”
He added, sometimes I say top five, sometimes I say top 10.” That points to more evidence that it could be Fields or Lance, whose ceilings are as high as any QB to come out of the draft during the past couple of seasons. Kyle mentioned Patrick Mahomes and John Elway as the prototypes since they are uber-talented but still found ways to win from the pocket.
There is risk in any move you make. There is a risk in re-signing Jason Verrett. There’s a bigger risk in sitting back and doing nothing at quarterback. My main takeaway was Shanahan views whichever QB he can draft at No. 3 overall has the potential to be a top-five QB. San Francisco moved up to get a top-five QB.