Sergio Estrada-USA TODAY Sports

Sergio Estrada-USA TODAY Sports


Kyle Shanahan didn’t want to ‘make a big drastic change’ at quarterback

Nov 23, 2017 at 8:04 AM--


Jimmy Garoppolo is the new Christmas present that the San Francisco 49ers got to unwrap but cannot play with yet. There's no guarantee that 49ers fans will get to see Garoppolo in a game this season unless there is an injury. The 49ers don't appear to be in any rush to put their potential franchise quarterback onto the football field.

On Wednesday, Shanahan named rookie C.J. Beathard as the 49ers' starting quarterback for Sunday's game against the Seattle Seahawks. Beyond that? Who knows? The starting quarterback job could remain a storyline for the remainder of the season.

Garoppolo is in the final year of his rookie contract and is scheduled to become a free agent in 2018. Of course, that isn't likely to happen. The 49ers could sign him to a long-term deal before then. If they can't or are unwilling to, then the franchise tag becomes an option. It would extend Garoppolo's audition in San Francisco by another year.

The decision to start Beathard wasn't a surprise. After all, Garoppolo is still learning Shanahan's complicated and detail-oriented offense while Beathard has been working within the system for nearly seven months and is coming off of the best performance of his young NFL career.

On Wednesday night, Shanahan joined KNBR and was asked to explain the thought process that went into the decision to start Beathard over Garoppolo on Sunday.

"It was really the same as any other week," Shanahan said on the "Tolbert & Lund" show. "I knew there was more time, so he would be further ahead. It's not just about Jimmy. It's about C.J. It's about the whole offense. It's about the whole team. I thought C.J. definitely played his best game versus the Giants. I thought our whole offense did and I thought our whole team did, obviously, getting our first win.

"I definitely didn't think it was the right time to make a big drastic change, especially with – I felt we were going in the right direction and I wanted to try to continue off that this week."

Shanahan went on to explain that there is no deadline for Garoppolo to play. While the 49ers coaches and players have a lot of confidence in Beathard, as stated earlier, the team has options when it comes to Garoppolo.

"He does not have to play," Shanahan explained. "It's not that, 'Hey, we're coming to this deadline that we've got to decide our future. Ours and his. For both sides.' We've got six games left, and then we're going to have next year also. I know that you have to franchise a quarterback to keep him and stuff, but quarterbacks are expensive.

"That is not that big of a deal to us, and it's not something where you want to put all this pressure on him, on the organization, on the players around him where, 'Hey, we're going to get this deal done – a long-term deal. You've got six games to prove it. You better go out there and do it or you won't get what you think you're worth.'

"That's not right, to me, for us. That's not right for him. It would be great if it could work out that way but that's just not the situation any of us are in. So you want to play it out. And that is the good thing about the franchise tag, and that's, to me, what made it an easier decision to trade for him at the time we did. I mean, I don't want to do anything very impulsive that could put our team at risk, but that's what's cool about having something like that."

That's not to say Garoppolo could not play if he needed to. He has been active on game days since his arrival in Santa Clara on Halloween. Should something happen to Beathard, he is prepared enough to enter a game and manage the offense. In fact, Garoppolo nearly did so against the New York Giants.

"There was a time in the game versus the Giants where we thought we lost C.J.," Shanahan said. "It was after his touchdown run, and his thumb was bothering him, and Jimmy had to start warming up. During that time, they take my call sheet, they bring me the 'Jimmy call sheet,' and instead of me calling the plays, I say numbers. So he looks to the numbers on his wristband and then he reads it.

"So, we're prepared for that and, eventually, I'd like to get him to do it to where he can call it and say it so you just have a lot more freedom to change it and to adjust things as the game goes. But if that's all we were working on right now, for something he's never done in his career, then he would be able to get that, but he wouldn't be able to get anything else, so you're trying to get the most important things first."

You can listen to the entire interview with Shanahan below.




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