Sergio Estrada-USA TODAY Sports

Sergio Estrada-USA TODAY Sports



Whether or not quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo receives any playing time this season is entirely up to San Francisco 49ers head coach Kyle Shanahan. Until that opportunity presents itself, all Garoppolo can do is continue to study. Barring an injury to starter C.J. Beathard, that opportunity will not come on Sunday against the Seattle Seahawks.

It might seem logical to get Garoppolo a few in-game reps during a game this season and gradually phase him into a start. Shanahan won't do that.

"Whoever ends up starting, which right now we plan on that being C.J., that's who we're going with," Shanahan said on Wednesday. "It's not going to be like an experimental, get a guy a few reps and stuff. You go with the guy, and you do whatever you can to win the game, and you make changes with injuries if need be."

He may not be playing, but Garoppolo is becoming more comfortable with the playbook as each week passes and as his role as pupil continues.

"Things are starting to come together," Garoppolo said on Wednesday. "Some of the smaller, finer details are becoming more clear to me. It's just going to take time."

Of course, the quarterback's opportunities are dwindling with each passing week. After Sunday, the 49ers will have only five games remaining on their schedule. Garoppolo, who has spent his entire career behind one of the greatest of all time in Tom Brady, is eager to play and prove himself.

"The competitor in me, obviously, you want to get out there, play with your teammates and help the team win," Garoppolo said. "But, it's a tough situation coming in midway through the season. It's going to be a process, but we'll get there."

Garoppolo comes from a system very different from the one he is currently learning with the 49ers. Shanahan has compared learning a new offense to learning a new language.

"When I was in school, I was pretty much a crammer," Shanahan said on KNBR last week. "I would do sports, and then I would cram hard a few days before the test. That's why a foreign language was one I never did good in. That's something you can't really cram. You just can't cram in a language. You have to stick with it every day. You have to speak it. You have to go through the reps of it, and it just happens over time."

While Shanahan and Garoppolo are optimistic that the quarterback will eventually become completely comfortable in the offense, the 49ers are taking their time and not forcing the matter.

"Some plays you go out there, and you feel 100-percent comfortable with it, you know exactly what's going on," Garoppolo said. "And other plays, not so much. Just trying to get as comfortable as possible as fast as I can."

"Even C.J. is still working his way through that," Shanahan said last week. "He had all of OTAs, all of training camp. He's been part of a game plan going on ten-straight weeks now. He's got a head start with that but it takes guys a while, and I think Jimmy's moving along as fast as he possibly can."

As for Beathard, he will be making his fifth-straight start coming off of the best performance of his young NFL career. He led the 49ers to their first win of the season, which came against the New York Giants on November 12. During the 31-21 victory, Beathard completed 19 of his 25 pass attempts for 288 yards, two passing touchdowns, a rushing touchdown, an interception, and a passer rating of 123.4.

"C.J. did play his best football [against the Giants], which definitely, to me, made the decision easier," Shanahan said on Wednesday. "It wasn't just C.J., but the offense around him. Everyone together. I thought those group of 11 guys when they were out there, they had their best game. That was important for C.J. It was also important for our team."

On Wednesday, Beathard reminded reporters that he is a rookie, who has only played extensively in five NFL games and started just four of those.

"Being a rookie in an NFL offense the first year starting, the more you play, the more your playbook expands a little bit and the more things you can do," Beathard said. "This will be my fifth start, and I think I can handle a little bit more week in and week out. I think coach knows that as well."